No El Mirage...

... I should be there right now, but I'm not... and for good reason.

It was Thursday evening and all was a go for my trip to El Mirage the next morning. I went to the store with my wife and while we were in the check-out line I got a call from our friends, James and Courtney, who live only a block away from us. They told me about a big fire burning right behind the hill that our homes sit on (we all live on Santa Barbara's lower Riviera) and that we should get home soon. This seemed weird since we were just there twenty minutes earlier and everything was fine. We were twelve miles away in Goleta, CA and could see the fire when we got on the freeway to head back.

By the time we got home, there were sirens all around and helicopters in the air. From our porch we could see a huge cloud of red smoke that was being illuminated by the flames that were just out of sight. As a precaution, we packed up all of our valuables including: computers, external drives and negatives. I was convinced that we'd be OK and went out to the porch with a tri-pod to take a couple of pics. Soon, the power went out in all of Santa Barbara (except for us up by the fire... go figure?) and when you looked down the hill at the city is was pretty much black. It wasn't too long after that when the police came along in their cruiser and announced over the PA that it was a mandatory evacuation of the neighborhood.

We had a quick freak-out, but our stuff was ready to go so we threw it in our cars and boogied! It's odd to leave your place wondering if anything will be there when you return. Our great friends, Chris and Kenny, at the Presidio Motel set us up right away with a place to stay. Ironically, the motel is only about a minute and a half down the hill from our house yet it was in a safe zone. We stayed there for two nights and returned home today. Unfortunately, the so-called "Tea Fire" claimed about 110 homes and 1,800 acres during that time. We were part of the lucky bunch, we had a house to come home to.

Here's a shot from our front porch, I it took about half an hour before evacuation.

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