Thursday, May 7, 2009

Santa Barbara Jesusita Fire Day 3

Winds are not cooperating with fire fighters, and now the entire hillside above the City of Santa Barbara is covered in smoke, ash and fire. A friend with a vantage point view across the City called us at work yesterday to say that things were heating up in San Roque Canyon, which is above our home. He wasn't kidding. The hillside less than 1/4 mile behind my home was ablaze, with winds blowing hard in an easterly direction.

The high winds that are damning those high on San Roque and Mission Canyons are so far our personal savior, but if they should shift to the South, then our home could be in trouble. Our neighbors were already packed up. They had received their reverse 911 calls, advising that our neighborhood had been placed under "mandatory evacuation". That is what it says. Its time to go. So, with winds blowing, and the hillside behind our house literally exploding ..... boom.... boom.... boom... as electrical transformers and contents of homes are consumed..... We loaded the car so full of photographs, paintings, books and sculptures that it dragged as we pulled out of the driveway.

At the last minute, we threw into our swim bags some clothes, and here my nearly completed SWAP was perfect and some toiletries. We made our way to our Santa Barbara Fabric Store to spend the night.
We are optimistic that our home will remain upwind; that it is stable in its condition on the flat lands of the San Roque neighborhood and it will survive.

I feel very deeply for my fellow Jesusista Fire refugees who are not and will not be as fortunate, but my husband and I are determined to stay productive and enjoy our temporary Santa Barbara refugee status. I plan to devote the rest of my Jesusita Fire blog entries as a blueprint for how to best enjoy our temporary displacement.

First is determining where to stay.

1. A number of hotels offer discount rates for fire evacuees. If you are lucky enough to be among the first wave of reservations, the Bacara has rooms for as little as $150 - $200 per night for e
2. Family and friends - slumber parties are the mood of the day.
3. American Red Cross has food and cots at Dos Pueblos High School.
4. Alternative properties. Santa Barbara is a real estate town, so many evacuees own more than one property. If not rented, then this is a good choice for those who need to feel personal security when displaced. Office couches serve under this category.
5. Homeless shelter - I hear some of the rooms have an Ocean view.
6. Find a bush or a spot on the beach not yet taken by the homeless.

We opted for 4 - On the floor of the studio loft above Fine Fabrics.

Second is determining where to stow the things in your car.

Third is determining where to bathe.

We swim with the Santa Barbara Swim Club Masters at Los Banos, in the Harbor every morning. Since they remodeled the locker rooms, the showers are actually nicer than those in our home. Swim bags were an indispensable save. Punch card admission to the pool is available for a nominal fee to Santa Barbara residents.

Fourth is determining where to eat.

We celebrated our first night out by sharing a King Crab at the Santa Barbara Shell Company at the end of Stearns Wharf. Then picked up a bottle of cognac at the still open after dinner Crown Liquors on Milpas and toasted to a nip before bed.

For breakfast after a short easy swim this morning, the air is getting a little thick with ash for physical exertion, we treated ourselves to a tourist size meal at Moby Dicks, also on Stearns Wharf.


  1. Thank goodness you are ok. I just sent an email to my friend BeeBee wondering if you had had to leave. Good luck! K

  2. This is Alex's friend ML. I'm glad to hear your home is still okay. I was worried about you guys! Hoping everything turns out well!