Blogging the Southern California Wildfires

10 years ago

The infernos engulfing thousands of acres in rural and residential Southern California are being amply covered by bloggers in and around the region. Here is a sampling of citizen journalists/live bloggers documenting and photographing the disaster:

Kathy Nida, a fiber artist in San Diego, is ready to evacuate:

Watching the news, they call a mandatory evacuation for Rancho San Diego, the community just south of me. What the heck? Mandatory?! I start calling around, get confirmation that there is an evacuation, start packing clothes and medications and papers. Call mom, mom calls back, says her neighborhood is supposed to get a call (it’s by zip code, apparently, not logic), so she’s coming to me. I’m packing clothes and one of the kids starts yelling, then the other…they just reversed the evacuation order, it was a mistake.

Excuse my heart attack. Deep breaths. Might as well stay packed for a while.

Photographer Joanie, aka Da Goddess is uploading images of the fire in Poway to her flickr photostream and describes the situation in her area on her personal blog:

I just moved into Poway a few months ago from Rancho Bernardo. I'm glad I did. My old condo was 100 yrds from where a church burned. I don't know the situation of the condo now, but as of yesterday morning, I was never so glad to be out of there.

Apartments across from where I went to elementary school burned, too. And my son's school is very close to current fires.

While in the process of evacuating our area, we stopped at Walmart. I ran into an old family friend who was, like so many others, trying to figure out where he could take his horses and mules. The parking lot was packed with RVs and folks just not sure where to go.

The women's spirituality blog, Ponder Ethereal is posting reports from blogger Carrie. Understandably, Carrie and her family are on edge:

The Witch Creek and Rice fires are at our doorstep. The areas around us were all evacuated and my car was packed - and still is - ready to leave if we were told to. The neighborhood we lived in six months ago, 13 miles away, burned. Carlsbad, Fallbrook, Del Mar, Encinitas, Escondido… all evacuated. Ryan came home from a long day at work and then slept on the couch so that he would hear the police cars with bullhorns if they came through our neighborhood. I was so exhausted, I fell into bed and slept hard until morning. The morning of the sunrise that lasts all day.

BlogHer 07 attendee Becky who blogs at Miss Priss is 35 weeks pregnant and waiting, not just for the baby to arrive, but for shifts in the wind over her home in San Diego:

Right now, we’re holed up, waiting. Fires and evacuation areas haven’t reached us. Yet. But it really depends on what the wind does. So we’re stuck in our house, windows closed, no central air, a couple of fans, waiting. We have nowhere to go right now. So we wait.

My upper back hurts from all of the sitting, lying down, sleeping. What else is there to do?
So we just continue to wait. And tomorrow, no work. More waiting.

World Golf blogger Heather McMichael is providing the golfing community with the status of courses in the fire zone:

Sadly, wildfires are destroying a great deal of land and homes throughout Southern California with reportedly up to 700 homes lost. Here are some blogs reporting on the fires, particularly in relation to golf courses.

Geoff Shakelford is reporting that Phil Mickelson is among the 250,000 that have been evacuated due to fires in the San Diego area.

Curbed Los Angeles is reporting on the fire in Lake Arrowhead and that it is burning near the lake and Grass Valley Golf Course. No word of damage to the course but homes have reportedly been lost. An Ordinary Life has more on it.

LiveLeak.com has video of a helicopter grabbing water from the lake at the ninth hole of the TPC Valencia Golf Course to fight fires in the areas.

Many of us have been keeping track of Contributing Editor Erin Kotecki Vest on Twitter where she's been apprising us of her evacuation status. Erin didn't fool around with her escape plans - at this writing she's at a hotel near LAX with her family and will board a morning flight to Florida. Good thing, as one of her kids has asthma and the fire is closing in on their home:

My son is coughing, but not badly. Meds and the indoor air are keeping him breathing without trouble. As I type this, a fourth fire has sprung up just miles from us

If you are keeping track, we have one fire less than a mile to our northwest, we have another fire about 8 miles to our north, we have another fire about 3 miles to our east, and yet one more now to the southeast that is about 4 miles away.

More blog-oriented resources on the Southern California fires:

LAist - Extra, Extra: The All Fire Edition!!!
Some snark, some hard news.

Bloggers Blog - Southern California Wildfire Resources
Newspaper blogs (such as the frequently updated LA Times Breaking News Blog); local radio and TV websites; resources for weather, pet care, Red Cross.

If you haven't joined Twitter, this is a good time to sign up (always free) and witness how this unique Web 2.0 tool can function as a communication link in a regional emergency. Many news outlets - KPBS, LA Times - and individuals - Nate Ritter, Hannabanana - have been "Twittering" evacuation orders, road closures and weather reports.

flickr members in the disaster zone are posting eyewitness photographs in the flickr group, Southern California Fires - 2007. Most intriguing and poignant are images of personal property - furniture, memorabilia, home equipment, books - uploaded by members to document their belongings in the event of losing their home. Group administrator Heather on the Go noted this in the group discussion:

Over the last day, I've done a lot of searching for fire pictures to encourage people to post them here and I have been noticing the saddest phenomenon.

I would come across a bunch of pictures of people's random things...a box of DVDs, a chair, a child's bedroom...all tagged with the word fire so they would pop up in my search.

It wasn't until today that I finally figured out what it was. People are quickly taking pictures to inventory their houses for insurance purposes and then uploading them to Flickr before they evacuate. Some are even tagging them as such.

I just have the saddest image of somebody scared walking around their house taking pictures wondering if the images will be all they have left once they leave.

It's also a really interesting reflection of how technology changes how we do everything...to the point that people even turn to it instinctually during times of panic and great stress.

UPDATE, 10/24/07

More links below. I will be posting these as I find them. Feel free to add any blogs/web resources in the comments. Thank you!

There is now a wiki called San Diego Fires.

The Metafilter item, San Diego Burns has been active since Monday, October 22. Interesting contributions from the MeFi-ites including first person accounts and links.

Sign On San Diego, the blog for the San Diego Union Tribune, is serving as a critical source of breaking news.

HOW TO HELP

From Heather White's remarks in the comments, the link below is a comprehensive and verified list of recovery and aid organizations from the CBS affiliate in San Diego, News 8:

http://www.cbs8.com/misc/fires_oct_07/help.html

Grace Davis, Contributing Editor, Life also blogs at State of Grace

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