I was lucky and didn’t get burnt out in the Chatsworth fire.
The fire actually started not far from where I live but the flames blew it south, across the 118 freeway and into the brush around Box and Bell Canyon where it burned over 20,000 acres (and is still burning).
Thank goodness for the firefighters; more than 2,000 homes have been spared.
My tale was a lesson itself. There had been a fire near Porter Ranch early that morning which was quickly extinguished. After working for a while at my local Starbucks, I headed back home, happy to see that the Porter Ranch fire was out only to discover smoke not far from my place. Not long afterwards, I get a call from Ceara’s school — she doesn’t feel well. I ask her if she can’t stay at the school as there’s a fire at our place and I don’t know if we’ll get back. She, poor thing, says she’ll fall asleep in the car.
So I pick her up and get her back to my place. There’s a ladder truck parked in the driveway of our complex and two firefighters are waiting nearby but it’s obvious that they’re not worried. So I get Ceara into bed and head out to reconnoiter, grabbing my camera, and taking lots of photos — one of which I’ve put up here.
Everything’s okay, although I check often and I’ve got the car packed with Ceara’s school stuff, her computer, my computer and the cat carrier’s ready up in my bedroom. The power, however, is out. But things are looking okay, so I bring the computer back into the house — standing down from general quarters, as it were. That was a mistake, as I found out later.
Ceara sleeps for hours and wakes up hungry. No power, nothing to eat at our place, so we decide to go out for food. On the way down the hill there’s a policeman who says that we won’t get back up unless we can show ID. As I’ve just moved and my license lists an address from two moves back, we swing back around and I hastily get some letters with my name and address on them. Because it’s still dark, I leave the front door unlocked — who’s going to look? After all, I live on the back side of a nice secluded complex.
So, once more, off we go. We find a Marie Callender’s and get food. On the way back, I decide we should get more emergency supplies, particularly candles. So we do. And then we come back via the route the cop had suggested only to find the road closed. I’m flabbergasted — I’d left the cats up at the apartment!
If the road was going to be closed, I wish the cop had warned me (he probably didn’t know).
Fortunately a friend had already offered emergency crash space, so I called her and told her my predicament. We settled Ceara in to her daughter’s bed — her daughter was over at her father’s place because my friend’s place was not far from Box Canyon and possibly soon to be evacuated.
So we went from the place where the fire was already out to one where it was burning close enough that we could see orange but not flames. I spent most of the night watching the news, ready to evacuate if need be. In the morning, Ceara was still not feeling well, so I took her to the doctor’s office. They advised that she stay home. As I didn’t know if I still had a home, let alone when I’d be allowed back in it, I called her mother and arranged for her to stay there.
By that time the Chatsworth fire had spread to over 13,000 acres and ash was raining down on Woodland Hills. If my place had power, it would have been a healthier place to stay — if I could have got there.
I was worried about the cats. Having got Ceara safely ensconced, I went in search of clean clothes. I was due for some new clothes, I hadn’t bought much of anything in several years. So I acquired two new pairs of jeans, a nice shirt, some sexy underwear and socks at Target. I found a place to stay at the local Marriott who were very kindly offering a reduced rate for disaster victims — and being an involuntary evacuee I qualified. I grabbed a shower and then crashed for several hours. When I woke up, I checked the news and saw that Topanga Canyon Boulevard was no longer being listed as a blocked road so I decided to see if I could get back to the apartment and check on the cats.
To my joy and theirs, I could. Still no power, though. So I got put out more food for them, checked their water, and locked the door, figuring to spend the night in the hotel and come back in the morning.
I took in a film (“The 40-year-old Virgin”) and, on the way back from the film, I hear that Topanaga Canyon Boulevard is closed again! Grr.
Still, the cats have food and there’s nothing I can do until morning. Morning comes and I discover that not only is the road open but we also have power.
So here I am, back again. Whew!
Now it’s time to get back to work!