That's pretty much the news around here.

Looking at an active wildfire map this week, the western half of the country looks entirely ablaze — and it’s only early July. It’s usually September before wildfire activity maps of the western U.S. show so much color.

My mind goes to all the places I’ve lived and the dangers of natural disaster in each area: tornadoes, earthquakes, massive earthquakes with likelihood of smothering mudslide, blizzards….. I’ve only skipped living in the heartland where the tornadoes seem on steroids, although I did stay in Oklahoma City for a few months one year. Thankfully, no F4 behemoths came through.

There’s always something, people like to say.

But that’s not helping much today as our family goes down the various lists at, preparing for the worst possibilities as the Klamathon fire grows and pushes north towards our region. We live in southern Oregon. The likelihood of this fire reaching us may not be huge but over the past few years, perspectives about wildfire danger have changed.

Everyone used to assume towns, and certainly cities, would be okay in fire season, especially towns with good resources and active fire prep activity — it seemed to most people and used to be mostly true, summer wildfires stick to wildernesses. There, summer fire is a natural process that encourages tree re-seeding and good forest health. But those days of complacency in towns all across the west are gone. While stories abound anywhere of wildfire destruction on the fringes of settled areas, or individual narrow escapes, firefighters have almost always prevailed, risking life and limb to protect our communities. Then, my personal wake up call, the Boles fire. It came through Weed, California in 2014, burning down the library and multiple homes and businesses. It was a small fire, relatively, but. it. burned. down. the library! That’s the one that hit home for nose-in-a-book me.

Then, the terribly destructive Santa Rosa fires of 2017. One on-line writer, Robert Starkey, has told his stories of how he was affected, sadly, beautifully. And perspectives about wildfire changed in towns and cities all across the west. Part of the city of Santa Rosa burned? Hardly wilderness, not even remotely located. Santa Rosa?? Even with all the incredibly hardworking firefighters who have leaped to the top of the list of what ‘hero’ and ‘heroine’ means ever since my own moving out West? It doesn’t take long for anyone who lives out west to realize how courageous these people are.

As a child growing up in Atlanta, Georgia, it was tornadoes that scared me. A couple small ones touched down in our neighborhood, one taking out the new neighbor’s brand new home while leaving one classmate’s house across the street virtually untouched. Another barely hit the back of our elementary school bus one morning, sending us into a slight tailspin that shook us kids up, that small incident turning into hair-raising, death-defying tales by the end of the school day. In my childhood dreams, darting, aggressive tornadoes would come zipping through our den and living room while I nimbly dodged them, jumping right, diving left, until waking up terrified in the middle of the night (again), half in the present world, half still evading twisters in dreamland.

As an adult living in rain-soaked Humboldt county, California, it was earthquakes and mudslides and tsunamis. Humboldt has the potential for the largest earthquakes on the planet, thanks to the Cascadia subduction zone, smaller than the San Andreas fault but viewed with increasing concern by seismologists for its potentially and historically massive quakes, community-destroying tsunamis following. The endless tsunami nightmares I had while living there made it impossible for me to consider putting down long-term roots in that shaky land. I later found out that one Humboldt State University student did a survey of people’s dreams all over the county and those who lived in historically tsunami-stricken lowlands, or deep in steep canyons as we did, had the same series of tsunami dreams while living there, towering waves that either tumbled and drowned or turned immense water roller coaster to ride, depending on the dreamer.

And now I live in wildfire — and drought — country with millions of others, where the natural disaster dangers, from wildfire anyway, are limited to the dry season…

which sadly and dangerously, extends longer and longer each year.

Views: 110

Comment by Safe Bet's Amy on July 7, 2018 at 11:37am

STAY SAFE!!!!!   ...and remember...

Image result for smokey the bear stay safe meme

Comment by Gawzamn Dionus on July 8, 2018 at 1:46am

The 'old growth' of the Northwest is what saved the ecosphere, the bioregions for millennia... good luck.

Comment by Anna Herrington on July 8, 2018 at 7:18am

Thanks guys - evacuation prep stuff still by front door with overnight news the winds have shifted and on the Oregon side, at least, the fire isn't pushing any closer, so far. 20% contained. Incredibly steep and rugged terrain, especially the California side. The Klamath mountains along the border meet with two other ranges in the same area, all acting as some sort of barrier, but fire can just be unstoppable, conditions depending. Anxiety producing for everyone, that is for sure. And weird to see the major interstate of the west coast completely stopped.

The old growth forests are as thrilling to walk in and among as anything I've ever experienced. And I love bringing relatives from east coast to a beautiful spot just to witness the changes on their faces and in their beings as the forest/river/mountain energy takes over..... priceless!

Thanks for coming by ~

Geez, I hope this fire stops its march soon. Thank you wildfire fighters!!!!!!! Simply amazing and incredibly word working, dedicated humans - who deserve all the best.

Comment by Anna Herrington on July 8, 2018 at 7:26am

Amy, that meme is perfect. And sadly, SO true.

Comment by Anna Herrington on July 8, 2018 at 8:06am

Monkey, I almost literally walked in circles when we first heard, the panic making mush of any logic in my brain. The website *really* helped me get my thoughts in order.... and the thought that we'd really should have begun preparing for fire season way back in March, with all the various actions they say are crucial. We haven't really embraced the minimalism life, shall I say.... and my husband is a carpenter who collects endless stacks of 'look at this beautifully grained piece we pulled out of that building from 1835 - oh and this 20' beam of straight grain redwood we could use somewhere, sometime....' which pretty much looks just like tinder to my eyes, especially today.


Packing a go bag is fraught with split second priority-making decisions - and if you get a 30 minute evac order? or more like, a 3 minute evac order??  - no wonder we see people on the news who just escaped fire with what seems like nothing or something odd, while their day to day belonging needs burn. or they suddenly run back in for that important thing then lose their life....agghh. So scary.

And we're supposed to be heading out of town this week, house sitter already here. Everything stopped while we see if they can contain this raging fire.

Comment by Anna Herrington on July 8, 2018 at 8:06am

And thanks for the hug. I needed it   : )

Comment by Anna Herrington on July 8, 2018 at 8:07am

Hugs back.

Comment by Anna Herrington on July 8, 2018 at 8:29am

A click on the 'active fire map' link near top of this post is pretty amazing, how many fires are going on. How they decide which firefighters go where...and how about rest? has always been awe inspiring to me. Follow the money, like so many other areas, I guess.

Years ago at a party I spend most of an hour chatting with a firefighter and asked some of these questions, in response, on hearing I taught preschool as I did for years ('taught') they said they felt pretty much the same about the job I'd chosen. How do you do it?? Ha!

Comment by Anna Herrington on July 8, 2018 at 5:56pm

The Klamathon Fire on the California-Oregon border grew to 30,500 acres Sunday and prompted more evacuation orders in Oregon, but an army of more than 2,300 firefighters had it 25 percent contained.

The fire has killed one woman in her home, injured three firefighters and destroyed 72 structures, including homes, according to Cal Fire .

Several communities on either side of the state border remain threatened and some are under evacuation orders or warnings.

Happy to report the wind shift has helped insure the fire is spreading towards deeper wilderness rather than north into more populated areas. I swear this living in dry ass tinder land has pretty much squashed my wanting to live way out in the hills, how husband and I both prefer to live - at least in this region (and yeah, we've been saving pennies and eyeing wetter areas for land for awhile now...) Breathing slightly easier today. My heart goes out to all those in high anxiety as fire races through... and there are so many reasons for people to be in high anxiety these days. or is it how it's ever been but like bubbles in a heating pot of liquid it's here, then there, now popping up where we're noticing/affected more.

Comment by Rosigami on July 9, 2018 at 2:00pm

Anna, I looked at the map after reading your post (07/09/18) and saw there are almost 2000 active wildfires. Shocking. 

Please stay safe. 


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