Hello from the other side...

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VF21

#KingsFansForever
Staff member
#1
Hi all!

In case you hadn't noticed, I haven't been around lately. I finally got a few minutes - and a decent internet connection - so I thought I'd share some of what I've been doing since Labor Day, Sept. 7.

I live, as many of you know, in the middle of Plumas National Forest. It's a beautiful spot to live and I love it dearly. On Sept. 8, however, it turned frightening in a quick second.

We had been without power since the evening before, when PG&E pulled the plug for a Public Safety Power Shutoff. Most of us have generators up here, so that wasn't too much of a problem. The problem came when the winds they had anticipated showed up and blew up the #NorthFire. The winds came out of the north and quickly drove the fire to the south. This has happened before, however, so we weren't too alarmed. There wasn't much smoke - it was actually blowing a little to the west of us.

Fast forward to about 2:30 pm. All of a sudden, the Yuba County Sheriff and our local fire department was telling everyone to "GET OUT. GET OUT NOW." One bad thing about PSPS up here? Our landlines phones are connected through an electrical relay system. If the power is out for more than 8 hours or so, the lines go dead until power is restored unless AT&T has put a generator at the relay box, something they don't seem too inclined to do once you get out of the more populated areas of the mountain. Thus, we had no phones (cell phone reception is also abysmal up here) so it was very difficult getting any kinds of emergency notifications. n
When you live in a forest, you think about the threat of fire. What you don't realize is just how paralyzing the words "GET OUT NOW" can be. Your brain doesn't want to work. You look around and there's no freaking smoke. How can you be in eminent peril if there's no smoke? I grabbed my cats, put them into their carriers, and put them in the car. I grabbed my computer, my back up hard drive, my cell phone charger and three cases of water. I had a "Go Bag" ready but ... for some unknown reason, I had taken stuff out of it and not yet put it back. I grabbed my medications and a folder of important papers. I grabbed a 5-gallon can of gasoline and put it in the back of my Explorer. (Hey, it seemed like a good idea at the time.)

Law enforcement was very insistent that we get off the mountain. Understandable since there is only one road in and out and it was gonna be impossible to get out once fire vehicles started going up and down.

I am blessed to have an incredible friend who opened his home to me and my cats without a second thought. After settling in to his guest room, I realized I had neglected to grab more than the clothes on my back. I figured I'd worry about that in the morning. We woke up early and were shocked by the amount of smoke in the air. It was then we learned there was a second fire to the south of us...we were essentially surrounded by fire in a pocket of Brownsville that had been evacuated late the night before. We hadn't been notified of the evacuation and were somewhat surprised - to say the least. The fires weren't heading towards us at that point, so we decided to stay put. We were actually able to get back up to my house, where I was able to grab some more possessions, including things like cat food, clothes, address book, etc. I also thought to grab a big chuck of corned beef that had been in my freezer. It was the only thing I salvaged, as it was still partially frozen. Everything else in the freezer will be tossed as soon as I can get back home. Unfortunately, I had done my big monthly shopping in town a couple of days before.

The fire to the south of us #WillowFire was the first to be extinguished. We had sheltered in place and after a couple of days the evacuation orders were lifted and the town of Brownsville came home. The #NorthComplexWestZone fire (previously known in part as the #BearFire) continues to threaten my little mountain community. They still cannot say when it'll be safe to return home. I am blessed to be safe with a roof over my head. My heart goes out to those of my neighbors who fled without having a set destination. They ended up being shuffled from one evacuation center to another as the two fires did their thing, one threatening Oregon House/Dobbins and the other heading towards Oroville and the town of Paradise, which had been devoured by the #CampFire two years ago.

I'm not going to make this political or issue-driven and I truly hope no one else does either. If you watch the news, and they mention Forbestown, Clipper Mills or Strawberry Valley, take a moment and send good thoughts or prayers or whatever. All of us could use them. I'll close with something I learned:

Things I've Learned while being evacuated
1. You can never have too much underwear. (Just take my word for it.)
2. There are friends and then there are FRIENDS.
3. Being away from home for an extended period of time can make you crazy.
4. Most people are kind. Unfortunately, there are some people in this world who seem to delight in the misery of others.
5. Seeing something on Facebook doesn't necessarily make it true.
6. A random act of kindness can make all the difference in the world.
7. We need to do a lot more to support our firefighters and law enforcement personnel.
8. Evacuation centers need to be a lot better organized ahead of the times when they're needed.
9. Being told I'm cleared to go home is the one thing I'm looking forward to the most.
 
#5
I'm out working long hours with no days off on one of the fires right now. Things are currently insane in the state right now but the main thing is that you're safe. Other than saving lives, one of Cal Fire's main priorities is to protect structures. They'll let the forest burn if need be but they'll have a lot of boots on the ground trying to protect people's homes.
 

VF21

#KingsFansForever
Staff member
#6
I'm out working long hours with no days off on one of the fires right now. Things are currently insane in the state right now but the main thing is that you're safe. Other than saving lives, one of Cal Fire's main priorities is to protect structures. They'll let the forest burn if need be but they'll have a lot of boots on the ground trying to protect people's homes.
God Bless you and keep you safe.
 
#7
I'm out working long hours with no days off on one of the fires right now. Things are currently insane in the state right now but the main thing is that you're safe. Other than saving lives, one of Cal Fire's main priorities is to protect structures. They'll let the forest burn if need be but they'll have a lot of boots on the ground trying to protect people's homes.
thank you
 
#10
I'm glad to hear you found a safe place to shelter VF! I think we've all been rudely awakened to how fragile we all are in 2020 and it's a miraculous thing that we have people among us who are literally putting their lives on the line every day to keep the rest of us safe from all manner of destruction. That's what gives me hope that no matter what we're going to make it through this because no matter what else happens, we can still take care of each other. I hope you and your cats can return safely home before long!
 

VF21

#KingsFansForever
Staff member
#11
Just for visual info:

I live in the area right below the second of the three red spots at the bottom of the map. I just heard an order for SIX air tankers on my scanner. I don't think I've heard something so sweet in a long, long time.

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#13
Our air quality index dipped below 200 for the first time in over a week yesterday and last night I was awakened to one of the most glorious displays of thunder and lightning I have ever seen. Hopefully this means good things for VF and those other friends in CA as well.
 
#15
Our air quality index dipped below 200 for the first time in over a week yesterday and last night I was awakened to one of the most glorious displays of thunder and lightning I have ever seen. Hopefully this means good things for VF and those other friends in CA as well.
Glad you guys finally got some rain. I don’t know if I’ll be glad to see the thunder and lightning since our recent fire around Vacaville was supposedly started due to lightning
 
#16
God Bless you and keep you safe.
@VF21, glad you're safe.

@ESP47, good on you, for doing the dangerous work.
I appreciate it guys.

I want to let you guys know that I'm not a fire fighter but I do a lot of work supporting them. I do have to drive out into the fire zones quite a bit with full gear and all that when I'm out working on the fires but I'm not nearly as close to the danger as the guys out there doing the real boots on the ground work with the bulldozers and the clearing. Just wanted to clarify because I have a ton of respect for what those guys do.
 

Warhawk

The cake is a lie.
Staff member
#17
I appreciate it guys.

I want to let you guys know that I'm not a fire fighter but I do a lot of work supporting them. I do have to drive out into the fire zones quite a bit with full gear and all that when I'm out working on the fires but I'm not nearly as close to the danger as the guys out there doing the real boots on the ground work with the bulldozers and the clearing. Just wanted to clarify because I have a ton of respect for what those guys do.
It takes more than just the firefighters themselves to do all the dirty work, and you are doing it. Thank you.
 
#18
I appreciate it guys.

I want to let you guys know that I'm not a fire fighter but I do a lot of work supporting them. I do have to drive out into the fire zones quite a bit with full gear and all that when I'm out working on the fires but I'm not nearly as close to the danger as the guys out there doing the real boots on the ground work with the bulldozers and the clearing. Just wanted to clarify because I have a ton of respect for what those guys do.
No need to clarify anything, but it speaks to your character that you did
 
#19
I'm glad to hear you are safe VF21. I work in Yuba City, and many of my patients have been evacuated from the Brownsville area. Many of them have returned home, especially around Browns Valley and Loma Rica. What a scary experience!

We have been doing distance learning with my parents in Grass Valley, and the internet has been spotty. foxfire and Jack Jack have been troopers through the COVID pandemic, and have actually been doing more school work with the grandparent's help.

It has been a devastating fire season already, and we are only in September. I have fond memories of nature camps in Berry Creek, walking over the flume of the Independence Trail in Nevada City, and walking to Feather Falls overlooking Lake Oroville. All of these sites are scarred and changed. Stay safe!
 
#21
15 days and counting.

I WANT TO GO HOME!
Hope you can go home soon. How are things out there? We had a clear weekend after the rains but yesterday there was smoke coming from down South in the air. Hearing the NW is at least due for more storms in the latter half of the week. Hope you get some relief and are home soon. In any normal year this would be awful on its own, with COVID it just is too much. Lots of good thoughts your way.
 

VF21

#KingsFansForever
Staff member
#22
As a belated birthday present, Yuba County reduced the evacuation order to an evacuation warning today, meaning I can go home but shouldn't unpack anything quite yet. Then, PG&E announces they're probably going to cut my power for 2 to 3 days starting Saturday because of potential high winds and low humidity creating dangerous fire conditions. ACK!!

At this point, everything in my freezer/refrigerator is beyond salvage - possibly including the appliance itself. Although power was restored while we were evacuated, I have no idea what I'm going home to. I've been told I should make sure I have a hazmat type mask before opening the door to the refrigerator and to make sure I have plenty of garbage bags. Rotting garbage is an attractant for bears and other scavengers, so I'm hoping recology brings up dumpsters for us to use to dispose of what was once human food but is now unidentifiable.

As soon as I get home, I have to undo some of the devastation I created in my rush to evacuate AND get my extension cords and generator out to prepare for another PSPS? I am so beyond done with 2020.

On a more serious note, I have always respected those who run towards fire while sane people are running the other way. After this, my respect for them and all those support crews who make sure they have what they need to do their jobs is endless. I truly don't have the words to express my gratitude and those of you who have been here for any length of time know it's not very often that I don't have words to spare.

Please support your fire fighters, especially those whose communities are served by volunteer fire departments. The dedication and generosity they show is incredible. They are living embodiments of what makes our communities so special.

Thanks for the kind words and good wishes. They mean a lot. :)
 

VF21

#KingsFansForever
Staff member
#23
I can't believe it's only been a month since I made this post. So much has happened...

This photo is a tribute to my dear friend, Jim. He passed away unexpectedly on Monday, Oct. 12.

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I will cherish forever the time I spent at his house during the fire/evacuation. During that time, we really shared a lot of laughs, tears, memories and plans for the future - including our annual trip to Sacramento for a Kings game. It had taken years, but I had finally converted him away from the dark side...he had been a Laker fan but for the past few years, he had truly become part of the Kings family.

Cherish your friends and celebrate the times you share. Keep them alive in your heart and by sharing their stories.

2020 sucks.
 

Capt. Factorial

This Is Why We Can't Have Nice Things
Staff member
#24
I can't believe it's only been a month since I made this post. So much has happened...

This photo is a tribute to my dear friend, Jim. He passed away unexpectedly on Monday, Oct. 12.

View attachment 10201

I will cherish forever the time I spent at his house during the fire/evacuation. During that time, we really shared a lot of laughs, tears, memories and plans for the future - including our annual trip to Sacramento for a Kings game. It had taken years, but I had finally converted him away from the dark side...he had been a Laker fan but for the past few years, he had truly become part of the Kings family.

Cherish your friends and celebrate the times you share. Keep them alive in your heart and by sharing their stories.

2020 sucks.
I'm terribly sorry for your loss, VF. Best wishes to Jim's family and friends.
 
#25
Just glad to hear you are safe, VF21.
And sorry for your loss. My condolences to you and your family, Jim's family and friends, and may he rest in peace.

2020 does suck but it is tough times like this that test our strength and resolve, we must remain vigilant.
 
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