Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Smoke Gets in Your Eyes

The Santa Ana winds are dying down a little, but the wildfires are still burning in our county and the smell of smoke is wafting through the house. Our town isn't endangered, although some of my family 95 miles away are skeptical; they're just not as familiar with the geography around here and to them the fire maps on the news broadcasts make it look like the fire is coming straight for us. Nonetheless, I've been checking the fire maps and the local fire blog online and I know we're not even close to having to evacuate. What's more, I ran into the father of one of the kiddo's schoolmates while we were at the bookstore this evening (we were bored silly after staying indoors all day -- no school all week due to the fires). It turns out he was a firefighter for 12 years and knows something about all this stuff; he said the wind direction was starting to change, the fire would likely start blowing back on itself, the firefighters would be better able to get control of it, and the fire would burn itself out in spots.

So the biggest problem we have right now is the smoky air. I would close the windows, but the temperature in the house reached about 84 degrees F during the day, and we have to get some cool air in here overnight. I figure the respiratory effect from the current amount of smoke is less than what one would incur while sitting next to a beach bonfire, but the smell keeps the fires constantly on my mind, and my heart is with the folks who live closer to the flames.

The stadium nearby is being used as an evacuation center and people are sleeping on cots in the stadium itself, or in tents, RVs and cars in the parking lot. At first there was a call for donations of all sorts: diapers, formula, blankets, sleeping bags, portable showers, prepared food, plates and utensils, water, etc. I talked with the kiddo last night about possibly donating some toys for the kids who are probably bored out of their minds; he was less than enthused about the idea and excused himself to bury his face in the couch and cry. Eventually we talked about feeling conflicted -- that one part of him wanted to share his toys, and one part didn't. I mentally inventoried our house, thinking of any items we could spare; we do have a fair amount of boys' clothing that we will bring to the community center for their next trip to the stadium. I wish we could do more.