There's a fire burning 6 miles away. What makes it scary is that it's west of here, at the bottom of Mill Creek Canyon, burning towards the northeast. If the winds shift more easterly, it'll come right up our canyon to our little village. The smoke plume is 20,000-30,000 feet high, and enough of it has blown eastward that it's been raining ash for about 4 hours.
I was sitting at Starbuck's with a colleague around 3:30 this afternoon, when my friend Shannon, who lives up in Angelus Oaks, called to tell about the fire and to tell me to get my tail home before they closed the road. I hauled butt out of there, and immediately saw the enormous plume from a fire that had only started at 3:00. As I came down Bryant Street, heading north to the highway towards home, I had to go around dozens of "lookie loos" who were gathered to watch the flames. I made it past the fire, and when I got home 15 minutes later, learned on the California Highway Patrol website that they closed the road right after I got through. So right now, no one can come UP the mountain from the valley, no one can do DOWN the mountain, and if we have to evacuate, it means we go UP the mountain even further to Big Bear. From there, we either go across the Rim of the World and down Waterman Canyon into San Bernardino (a 3-hour drive) or down the back side of Big Bear to Lucerne Valley, and from there either west to Apple Valley or southeast to Morongo Valley (a 3-hour drive).
Our bags are packed, as well as some tubs that have our files and my father's photo albums. DH will load most of it into his truck, and we'll meet up somewhere. As I'm writing this, we have the windows open since it's pretty hot outside and we have no air conditioning up here. The smoke is pretty heavy, but we're getting used to it.
At 3:30 the news reported 10 acres burned; at 4:00 they said it had grown to 20 acres, but then it exploded and as of 6:30 was over 2,000 acres.
(Updates on the fire can be found at http://www.sbcsun.com OR http://www.nbc4.tv OR http://abclocal.go.com/kabc/ OR http://cbs2.com/)
This is not the first time for this. In 2004, when the entire San Bernardino front range burned, destroying 400+ homes near Lake Arrowhead, we were evacuated and spent 4 days in our tent trailer in Yucaipa. In 2005, a fire in Mill Creek Canyon caused us to be evacuated again, and we spent 5 days at a friend's house in Yucaipa. We don't know where we'll go if we evacuate this time - my friend doesn't live in the big house we used last time, and because of the heat, we don't want to use our tent trailer. DH is thinking a hotel somewhere.
I'll update later.