Due to urbanization and a lack of controlled burns to emulate the natural fires that should be occurring to keep the dry bush managed, every few years coastal Southern California turns into a burning inferno. I have lived through a few firestorms and, I guess to remind me of the bad that comes with all the good of living in Southern California, a freak May Santa Ana blew through during my recent visit home sparking 8+ fires across North County San Diego (3 of which were within 5-10 miles of the house I grew up in). It seems as though, while it is still hot as blazes, the Santa Ana winds have died down, and so have the fires. Many of my friends were evacuated but this time people were evacuating TO Olivenhain instead of away from it.
"The San Marcos/Elfin Forest fires just don’t want to give up. Keeps flaring with new fuel spots. Luckily there is virtually no wind now." - Mom, May 15, 2014
The most memorable fire for me was on October 21, 1996. My parents were out of town so my sister and I had a couple staying with us. That afternoon I took the bus home from school. The couple worked so I wasn't expecting them home until dinner time and my sister wasn't home because she had gone to a Charger's game with a friend. I watched from our upper deck as smoke turned into actual flames when a police officer drove down the street (this was before the brilliant invention of reverse 9-1-1). He was announcing that we needed to start getting things together because we may have to evacuate. This is when panic set in because I was 12 and home alone! As it started to get dark out, I pack up all our photo albums, home videos and what I thought were important documents into every suitcase and box I could find and waited anxiously for the police officer to drive by announcing for us to evacuate. If the sitters weren't home yet my plan was the take it on foot until someone felt sorry enough for me to pick me up. Luckily, Olivenhain was never evacuated but Erin and I slept in here room where we could see the flames in the distance from her sliding glass door watching the flames all night. This was also the first fire we had (that I can remember) where school was canceled due to poor air quality.
Other years with North County firestorms: 2003, 2007 and now 2014.
May 14, 2014 - View of San Diego with smoke from the Poinsettia and Coco fires.
October 21, 1996
Thank you to all the brave firemen battling these tumultuous blazes and GOOD LUCK OUT THERE NORTH COUNTRIERS!!!!!!!!!