Fri, 31 Oct 2003 14:01:22 PST
I went out into the mountains yesterday with my family.  The flames were
nowhere close to my oldest daughter's home and everything there is ok.  The
flames were within inches of my home which has a partly constructed addition
going on.  The walls are still plywood.  I have no idea why it is still
standing, but there it is; safe and sound.   Almost everything on the
surrounding ten acres was at least flashed over, and a portion of it which
we had not cleared burned hot and heavy.   My water tank, well house,
pressure tank are all gone or messed up.  The well pressure tank actually
exploded, probably from contained steam.  The brass fittings on the other
devices melted completely away.  The 7000 gallon water tank is completely
empty, whether from leakage or evaporation.  The propane in my tank is gone,
who knows how that leak affected the fire there.  All exposed plastic
faucets or electric wire cables have oompletely melted.  The fire burned
around the edges of my wooden planter boxes, and any mulch made from
chippings obviously burned really hot, because the ground is white and bare
in those places.  The fire burned all around the greenhouse, but did not
touch the structure.  It even melted some pots next to the greenhouse,
leaving lumps of soil in the places.   It is very dry inside;  I will be
buying a tank for the back of my SUV tomorrow, so I can haul water up on
Sunday when I go back.  The roses, trees and shrubs are mostly gone,
although some will arise from the ashes.  The saddest plant losses are the
native Englemann oaks and the manzanita.  Both of the oaks look lost, but
these plants are surprising.   They are still alive at the heart and some
will put out new leaves and branches as they have time to recover.  The
manzanita is definitely a California plant that regrows after burns, and
will start again up from the roots.  My goats did die in the fire.  There
were two neighbors who (foolishly) stayed; they have been taking care of
other animals, including my middle daughter's goats which did survive.  The
fire scorched all around the cage, right up to the wire.   This family's
house was in a quonset hut (made of heavy rounded steel arches.)   It is a
complete loss.  The structure is standing there, but everything else is
The trip through the burned areas was completely strange.   The chapparal
looks like it was bombed.   There are scorched sticks and yucca plant
remains still standing.  Everything else is scorched black on the dirt and
covered with blowing ash.
Despite all of this, we feel blessed.   We have each other, and have stayed
together all the way.   I am so proud of my daughters and son-in-law, who
are absolutely doing the best possible support and caring for each other and
for me.  We are still feeling shell-shocked, but are glad we went up to see
how things are for ourselves.  The fire engines were in our valley last
night doing mopping up and the fire crews are heroes.
Marguerite, who is well-cared for and doing well despite these trials.

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