Today, Ray, Sarah, Gregorio, Liz, Ron and I drove up to Ojai to assess the condition of our orange grove after the Thomas fire had raged so dangerously close this week. Rachael and Ariel stayed home and watched Luna and Nico. This trip came after Ray and I decided to cancel a planned visit to Texas and Tennessee, which would have kept us out of town for over a week. We just couldn’t justify leaving when the fires were so close and an evacuation order has sent Liz and Ron down here to LA since they couldn’ t remain at the orange grove. This morning was a reconnaissance mission to determine the damage to our place and also see how the surrounding areas had fared.
The long and short of it: our place was ash-covered and sooty, but nothing was fire-damaged. Every interior smelled smokey, but nothing significant beyond that. On the other hand, the surrounding forests up in the hills were completely burned out and black. In fact, there was a current fire in several places up in the hills, which was producing lots of smoke.
The air quality was also terrible. We had to wear masks with a heavy-duty filter to even be there. The air was filled with fine ash and the winds were stirring up. The fires up in the hills grew larger while we were there, and once we headed back down Highway 33, we saw quite a blaze down a short road. The firefighters were there, dealing with it. The valley was very smokey as well. Once we reached Ventura, the ocean breeze cleared the air so visibility increased. We heard online at that point, the firefighters had closed Highway 33 to through traffic.
I am very grateful that our orange grove has not sustained damage. That is a huge relief. Now, we have to continue hoping that the winds don’t crank back up and whip up all those smoldering embers. Here’s to that prayer.
Thank you for your thoughts and prayers. They are much appreciated. I think we’re on the downhill slope. I guess we’ll see how we fare tonight. This is truly a one day at a time situation, at least for now.
Here is a photo of a fire plume in the western sky and several active blazes up in the hills. Hopefully, this will settle down soon. A big thank you to our firefighters!