The little black cloud I’ve been talking about? It’s smoke!

This time it’s a fire. Wildfires are a Southern California staple, but this particular one has our immediate attention.

If you rely on television and movies to understand Southern California you might expect little more than a sprawling freeway system and out of control suburban congestion. There is that.

But there is so much more.

Silent Valley mountains

When I hit sensory overload, which certainly does occur, we head for the hills. We invested in a little retreat just perfect for escaping this particular  mega-region. 

Split rock Silent Valley

Meet our little cabin in the woods…

Trailer

That’s how I see it, anyway. A cabin with wheels.

For more than 35 years we’ve maintained limited ownership in a private recreational vehicle resort in the San Jacinto Mountains. In the 70’s, hedging against fuel restrictions during the oil crisis years, we bought a spot in this lovely place less than two hours from home. It offered a perfect get-away for a young family with limited traveling resources and it now offers the same retreat potential for two senior citizens.

Indian Grinding Rocks

But today we’re watching the news stories, hoping Silent Valley survives the raging Silver Fire. This huge wildfire broke out around 2 p.m. yesterday on the road that leads down into the resort area, and dense brush, further fueled by high winds and high temperatures, has scorched more than 10,000 acres in and around the area with no more than 10% containment.

People have already lost their homes, fire fighters have been injured, and the reports indicate this fire is worse than the Esperanza Fire which took the lives of five firefighters in this same region nearly seven years ago.

Esperanza Fire Memorial

We wait. There isn’t a good way to know anything for certain. It’s not helpful to race ahead about what this may mean, so it seems best to offer up a prayer for those in its direct path, in particular, the more than 1,000 firefighters called to the uncontrolled blaze.

It’s when I think of them that I feel myself getting emotional. Four firefighters have already been confirmed as injured. A few people have lost their homes. These are the real casualties.

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But I would miss our little place. Our cabin-on-wheels stays on site and we don’t yet know about how it has fared.

Wildfires are naturally capricious. We’ll have to see where this one takes us…and you know I’ll share an update when I know anything. Silent Valley has a Facebook page and the frequent updates give me hope that the preponderance of the place is certainly spared.

Just this week I had been contemplating severing my tie with Facebook. I guess it has its value.

70 thoughts on “The little black cloud I’ve been talking about? It’s smoke!

  1. Dear Debra, those prayers are being offered up from here on the Cutoff. We’ve heard some reports of the fire, but, I hadn’t realized it was in close proximity to your cabin in the woods. I do hope that the winds die down quickly, that all are safe from harm, especially the firefighters. I know you will keep us posted – and I’ll be thinking of you all.

    • Thank you very much, Penny. You are such a dear. I didn’t get overly excited when I first heard of the fire because there have been many in that area through the years. I didn’t realize, though, that the difference between this one is the direction of the wind’s force. The other fires have been in the fall and the Santa Ana wind conditions have blown the fire away from Silent Valley. I find these fires particularly fascinating and there is one thing you can’t do–control the weather. So we will wait this out. And yes, indeed, my concerns are really with the firefighters and crews. I would be so worried if my loved ones were out on those fire lines. I will definitely keep you posted. I appreciate your prayers, my friend. ox

    • Thanks Nancy. Of course the primary concerns are for firefighters and the people who have been evacuated or already lost their homes. Last night as we were following some live coverage on the television they were interviewing people in the evacuation center who didn’t know if there homes were left standing. I couldn’t help but think of how I was feeling even about wondering about a trailer! How awful to be wondering about your home! This is a nasty fire, so I’m sure you’ll be hearing more about it. I’m still hopeful the little trailer made it! And it may be fine. The landscape…well, it will come back! ox

    • Thank you so much, AuAu, and I keep thinking of the people who have lost their home. I’ve heard some heart wrenching stories already, and I’m just glad that whatever our losses they are at a distant. We weren’t in harm’s way for even a moment. This is quite a fire, from what I’m learning!

  2. Your kids are really lucky to have grown up visiting that cabin in the woods every year. I heard about the fire on NPR. I hope they can get it under control soon – so sorry to hear that 4 firefighters have already been injured.

    • We do have some very happy memories there, Rosie, and I’d love to extend our time into the future, but we will have to see how the story concludes. I’m very concerned about the firefighters, and after the losses in the previous Esperanza fire in that area, and then of course the horrific Arizona losses to the Hot Shot crew, I think we’re all tremendously alerted to the dangers they face. That dwarfs my concern for a trailer. We won’t know anything for certain for quite awhile, I’m assuming, but I’ll be sure to let you know. ox

  3. Ohhhhh, Debra.
    Of all the things I don’t miss about living in southern California, wildfires top the list. I am thinking all the positive thoughts I can possibly think for you. The place you have there is so beautiful. I hope you are able to enjoy it for many more years to come.
    (((((Hugs)))))

    • Thank you so much, Lori. You know the area! I heard earlier this afternoon they were evacuating all the way east to Cabazon…I could hardly picture that! We are surely hoping we didn’t lose the trailer, because I doubt we’d replace it at this point. The park is definitely scarred. We saw some of the photos on FB and that was rough. But we’ll take what comes and see what we can do. I’ll let you know. And thank you for the hugs, my friend. ox

  4. Debra… I had a very strong feeling to call you this afternoon… but I figured you were on your way to yoga class, or still at work or something.. & I ignored that little nagging voice… so here I am saying “hello” dear friend & I hope your little cabin on wheels is ok.
    Love to y’all from Texas,
    V

    • Hi there, my friend! The funny thing is that I was thinking of you, too. I was remembering how hard your little town was hit with the big Texas fires, was that already two years ago? I did go on to yoga and I always think of you there. :-) I am really wondering how this is going to play out. If it’s the end of a season in our lives that will be interesting, too. But we will be a little sad. Let’s talk next week! Thank you so much for your goo wishes. Let’s talk next week! ox

  5. Of all the disasters Mother Nature conjures, I think the threat of fire would most terrify me. Hoping your place will come through OK, and praying that there will be no loss of life in this one.

    • Thank you so much for your thoughts and best wises, Karen. I’m hoping we hear soon about our own little spot. The fires have spread and I’m sure it’s going to be a very long weekend for the firefighters. This fire has a lot of energy at the moment! But if no one loses their life in such a big conflagration won’t that be a success!!

  6. What a beautiful place for a holiday. It’s very scenic. We have a lot of trouble with bush fires in Oz too. I do hope your cabin is okay and that your beautiful part of the world has been spared xx

    • Yes, you DO know about these fires, Charlie. My ear always alerts when some of the worst of the bush fires make the national news. We pay this price for the beautiful warm weather and other natural conditions that are exceptional, I guess. Thank you for your thoughts. I am hoping for the best. Maybe just smoke damage? :-)

  7. Oh Debra I hope your little oasis in the hills is spared. San Jacinto is such a beautiful place. A “date” took me there once, on the other side of the mountain via the Palm Springs Sky Tram. I was in sandals and a dress…and it was snowing. *L* I put the Silent Valley Club on my FB so that I can keep track, too, and say a little prayer for your cabin on wheels.

    • Oh you must have frozen on your date, Janine! Ha! That whole stretch of the San Jacinto Mountains if you’re gauging weather by what we experience in Palm Springs or any of that stretch of desert. It’s beautiful, though, and I hate that it will be scorched. Yet I understand enough about the ecological needs of a forest to also know there needs to be a burn every few years for the health of the landscape…it’s those of us who live in the forest who have to take the bad with the good. I haven’t been on FB yet this morning, but I’m headed there soon, and hope to see an update. Have a good weekend, my friend. ox

  8. How terrible Debra. Forest fires are something that was on my mind too this summer, as we live directly next to some woodland and our region was on alert…. we are so fortunate though. The poor people who have lost everything are now on my mind too. Let’s hope for rain, a drop in the wind, and maybe a bit of luck too, so the firefighters can go home safely and your retreat is spared.

    • Thank you for your thoughtful comment, Cathy. If the winds calm down that should help fight the fire. We don’t experience the winds down in the valleys where I live, but this is up in the mountains, and the news reports continue to talk about very high wind conditions. I’m hoping to hear something definitive today about Silent Valley, although now the fire has spread to other communities and it may be awhile before communication is restored. Thank you for your thoughts. I hope for the best, but we are grateful to be safe, and ultimately that’s the only thing that should be on our minds! ox

    • Thanks, Jim. Our little trailer is very comfortable. If we are ever able to return I must take photos of so many of the others. We have this little old trailer sitting in the park with $100,000 rigs outfitted with satellite television, pop-out rooms that are larger than some homes, and incredible rolling stock! Of course, for many of these people this is their home. And there are many people who are up into their 80s who use Silent Valley as their sen-permanent residence. I’m wondering about them.

  9. How scary. What a beautiful place to have as backdrop for some of your living. I hope this fire is controlled soon! No more injuries and speedy recovery to those already injured and suffering loss.

    • Thank you, Colleen. We’ll be keeping our ear to the news today, and hope they make progress. Whatever “happened” at Silent Valley, I presume that’s over and done with…the fire has spread a great distance from that originating point. Now other communities are being evacuated. So it should be a long weekend for the firefighters! What a difficult occupation!

    • Thank you, Paula. Wildfires are Caifornia’s nemesis, and through the years our little Silent Valley has been threatened many times. I’m not feeling a sense of great distress, it’s just a sad time if there is great loss. But for those in danger on the fire lines, the “word” is that this is one of the worst fires for spreading quickly and being unpredictable and that causes great concern for potential injury or loss of life. I’ll be updating at some point. Thank you for your concern and prayers, my friend.

      • ♥ During drought times…there are fires here….but never anything like the wildfires you seem to battle each year. I cannot even imagine what it must feel like….but I sure hurt for all of those involved. ♥

    • And I thank you, of course. Remembering that the concerns go beyond property has kept this whole event in perspective for me. So many people on the fire lines increases the odds for injury and harm. I hope today to hear some news about where things stand at Silent Valley. ox

  10. Fingers crossed and saying a little prayer for all those lives, Debra, and for your place. Our next door neighbor’s house caught on fire when I was a kid, and I will never forget how those flames reduced memories to rubble and ash while we watched, helpless.

  11. Fire and water, we cannot live with out them, yet at times we wish we could!

    I hope all will be well, thinking of you and all those in the same situation. I have great respect for the emergency teams who put their own lives at risk for the sake of others.

  12. Oh how awful. I know forest fires are always a possibility but this one is pretty close to home. Your little home away from home. We will all keep your retreat in our thoughts and hope the outcome is good. Though as you say people have already lost their homes and those firefighters are such brave souls.. c

    • Thank you, Celi. I think we are probably personally “in the clear” at this time. I don’t have a totally accurate picture of how things have progressed, but following the Facebook accounts it would seem we are okay. On the other hand, I’ve heard reports of many people, more than a dozen, losing their homes. We have firefighter friends and I am in awe of their courage. Skill, too, but courage! I hope you have a wonderful weekend. I look forward to hearing about all you will share. :-)

    • I have my blog post added to it, and a few friends seem to check in on it from time to time, but that also gives my other friends the impression that I’m keeping up with them–which I’m not! Then I had this few days where I used it to keep up with fire news…I’m just not sure which way to turn, but if I don’t completely close the account, I’m certainly not interested in investing time into it! Here’s to a good weekend! :-)

    • I think these cyclical fires would be less of a stress if people didn’t continue to build up into forested areas. Continual population expansion puts a terrible strain on the resources! But I don’t suspect things will change for the better any time too soon. Meanwhile, we live with the consequences. All indications today would lead me to believe the trailer is fine. The park itself has some damage, but I don’t think it’s going to be too massive, and in the end, it was the firefighters who protected it. I’m eager to see for myself, but mostly out of curiosity, not really worry. Thank you, Frank. And you have a wonderful weekend. I wonder what your weather will give you this time?

  13. For all its beauty, the California climate contains some horrific elements. This is terrible news. These fire fighters are a special lot and so much is owed them. Pray no one else is injured as the fire is quickly brought under control. You’re right. Wildfires are notoriously capricious. I hope this works to your advantage and your cabin and the surrounding area are spared, Debra. In the meantime, do remember to breathe.

    • Thank you, John, for the kind reminder to just breathe. I think we are handling it all with a great deal of calm. It’s simply impossible to do a thing but keep this whole incident in perspective. As we’ve rolled through the day, however, it seems less and less likely that we have personally experienced any loss. I’ve seen some pictures and the fire did get into the direct area, but we aren’t talking destruction as much as a good scorching, from what I can see, and the flames didn’t get into storage areas–presumably! :-) So we are fortunate. The fire has spread towards other towns and the concerns are still there for the firefighters, of course. I think we will not be too eager to return however…maybe when fire season leaves us! Have a good weekend, John, and be sure to think twice about what you bring back from the Farmer’s Market. :-)

    • Thank you so much, Deb. From what we’re able to tell, I don’t think there was any significant damage to Silent Valley. I was told by another friend that the fire crews use the “camp” as their base! In which case, it would indicate they’ve protected it. I’m now very curious to learn more, and I will definitely share. I do appreciation your kind thoughts. ox

  14. I wish all the best for your retreat – and of course for people living around the wildfire. It looks like such a gorgeous area. May you still have many good memories being added to the once you already have from the recreational area. We all give our prayers.

    • I truly thank you, Otto. I believe we are probably “in the clear” although about two dozen homes have been destroyed, which makes our concerns for our little vacation place of much less importance. The fire isn’t yet contained, but I am sure we’ll get some definitive news later this week. Preliminary reports would indicated our little home on wheels is probably saved. We’re eager to get up there and assess damage to the surrounding area. I’ll be sure to take photos! Have a good week, Otto. :-)

    • Thank you very much, Fiona. We have reason to believe we haven’t had any damage to the trailer. We learned that Silent Valley has been used as “base camp” for all the engine companies and firefighters. That’s a very good sign. There is a little damage to the surrounding area and the fire isn’t yet contained, but I think we’re in the clear. I’m eager to see for myself, in time. :-)

  15. Fires always send shivers down my spine.. the fear of lives lost and the spectacle of homes destroyed is just so terrifying. I will pray for your little retreat to remain untouched. But even if it is, does this mean the beauty of the surrounding area for hikes will be lost?

    • Hi Barb! Thanks for your thoughts about the recent fires! They are really frightening, yes, and I am trying to be very aware of how nature replenishes from these fires! The fires actually serve a purpose in keeping forests healthy and vital, but the problem is that human interference keeps encroaching directly into areas that are prone to periodic burns. What a conundrum! I find it all fascinating…but at the same time, I’m one of them with a “cabin” in the woods! For now, we are fine. It does have me thinking quite a bit about our location, however. I don’t think I’d like to be up there during one of the evacuation periods. ox

  16. Nightmare! Looking at when this was posted you should know more now? There are few more scarey sights than the plume of smoke coming towards you, Deb. Hope it’s under control now with no loss of life.

    • Yes, Jo, I think we’re in the clear and our little trailer was defnitely spared. We haven’t seen anything for ourselves, but by now we’d have heard if damage had been anything worth reporting. I want to get up there soon and see what the entire area looks like, and when I do, I’ll be posting again. It was very odd and a little alarming to see on the nightly news the road leading into Silent Valley shrouded in smoke and flames. But we were later told that Silent Valley was used as a fire command post, so I think we may have had the very best protection! And some injuries, but no loss of life! That was a tremendous blessing! Thank you for your concern. ox

  17. Dear Debra, thanks for sharing this news with us. I’m so sorry to learn that some of the firefighters have been injured. This seems to me to be a horrific years for fires and for the loss of life and for injury. Please do keep us updated. And I so hope that your cabin on wheels is safe and that all the people who live in the path of the fire get out safely. Peace.

    • Thank you very much, Dee. I will hopefully be able to get up to the mountains soon and check things out more personally, but from what we’ve been able to learn it seems that things are fine and intact! Dirty, perhaps, but that’s more than fine! :-) This has been a terrible fire season in Southern California, and typically our worst fire conditions are in the fall. Our temperatures are just now climbing up–always when the poor school children return to the classroom. Thank you so much for your concern. It is really appreciated, my friend. ox

  18. Fire is so terrifying. It takes brave men and women to battle them. I can’t even begin to imagine – particularly with wildfires that can be so unpredictable. I hope your little cabin in the woods is spared. Deep breathes. Everything will be as it should – for one reason or another.

    • I think we will find our trailer is just fine, Kristy. We haven’t been able to return to see for ourselves, but we are confident we’d have been notified of any significant damage. I’m kind of curious about ash and soot, but that’s redeemable! Thank you for your concern. It was very eerie to see the area on the evening news, and to realize we knew all the landmarks! This week is a lot more calm…whew! :-)

    • Thank you, Rob. I need to do a follow-up post. We are hoping to get “up there” before too long just to see for ourselves. We have every reason to believe the trailer itself is fine, and that Silent Valley didn’t have much damage. The fire patrols apparently used it as a command post, so that was excellent protection! I am very curious about smoke damage and ash, but if that’s all there is to contend with, I will simply be grateful. Thank you very much for your concern.

  19. Good day
    Why leave the likes again?
    Thank you for visiting with me.Beautiful my sky with for one them good day desired.Sincerely Andrea

    • I think our little trailer is fine. There were some homes lost in the area, and that’s always so very sad. But we need the rain nonetheless. Everything is so dry, and you know how hot it can be right through October! I’m not sure we’re out of fire danger yet.

    • Thank you, Kate. From what we can tell our little trailer is fine. There was damage to other parts of the campground, but nothing really devastating. There were people who lost their homes in the surrounding areas, and that’s a huge loss I can’t even fathom navigating! But we’re eager to get up there and see for ourselves. We are wondering about ash and soot…could be a dirty job, but that would be fine. Thank you!

  20. I’m sorry to be coming so late to this, Debra, but we’ve had family visitors for the past week. i do hope the fire was contained and your cabin on wheels was spared.

    • I think all is well, and thank you, Perpetua. We may find out little “place” sooty and a little dirty, but it should be fine. We are eager to get up there and see what we find. One structure inside the park was destroyed, but all in all we hear that Silent Valley was spared. Thank you.

    • Thank you, Claire. We haven’t actually made it up to see the trailer with our own eyes, but we have every reason to believe all is fine. Now there are absolutely horrible fires right outside Yosemite National Park. It’s incredible how powerfully destructive these wildfires are. But thank you for your kind thoughts in our direction. I look forward to a camping trip sometime soon. :-)

  21. Pingback: How many gallons of water can I conserve with my little green watering can? | breathelighter

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