A birds-eye view of the Glendora fire…breathing lighter is a little harder through the smoke.

There is a significant downside to 80 degree temperatures in January. The hills are a tinderbox. Carelessness with illegal campfires can set the local world ablaze–and that’s just what happened yesterday.

As I headed into work…


And pulled off the freeway…

off  the freeway

From the office window the fire was still primarily in the hills to the east of my vantage point. But it began to spread quickly. We stood on the porch outside our office and watched the fire jump from hot spot to hot spot, thinking of our many friends who live north of the University and were more than likely being evacuated.


It spread so quickly. It only takes a few short minutes to engulf the entire hillside.


We listened to helicopter water drops throughout most of the day.


This morning’s early news reports the Colby Fire, burning in the foothills of the San Gabriel Mountains above Glendora and Azusa, has consumed more than 1700 acres, destroying five homes and 17 buildings and is about 35% contained.

We are still under a red-flag warning due to persistent foothill winds and extremely low humidity levels. We have had no significant rain in a very long time. This certainly illustrates our drought conditions, doesn’t it?

The challenges to breathing lighter are a little more complicated today, but I’ll do my best. I’m not in any danger at all, but the air quality isn’t good. It will be a stay-indoors kind of day, I think.

I am also  trying to avoid the news coverage with constant reminders that today is the 20th anniversary of the  Northridge Earthquake –a 6.7 temblor that lasted only 10 seconds but killed 57 people and injured 9,000.

All the earthquake talk just makes me jumpy!

So I think today is a good day for lots of music and very little talk.

I am headed down later today to spend time with two little girls. They can take my mind off of almost any troubling news.

I hope you have a breathing lighter day today with clear skies and no shaky ground–figuratively or literally. Let’s extend that to enjoying the entire weekend.

Your friend in the wild west…Debra

71 thoughts on “A birds-eye view of the Glendora fire…breathing lighter is a little harder through the smoke.

    1. It’s nice to know you have friends so close by, Nancy! Glendora is a lovely town. Except for poor air quality I’m not too aware of the fire today. I think they must have it under control, even if not fully contained. I hope you have a great weekend, my friend. 🙂

  1. Hi Debra… this is just a tragic occurrence that happens far to often, with dire consequences for some… why people light fires without taking all the precautions is just beyond me… in fact we have areas where fires are just banned completely at certain times of the year, just to ensure this doesn’t happen…

    1. The fire really is tragic, Rob. And the three hooligans who started the campfire are behind bars tonight, charged with very serious crimes. They appear to just be very foolish and careless, but it is a crime to have campfires in the Angeles National Forest. Very frustrating!

  2. I was thinking about you and hoping you were safe. I am astounded that locals started this with a campfire. I would expect folks who live out there are very well versed in fire disasters. I guess some people think it won’t happen to them. Let’s hope they get it under control and no one dies although I always worry about the wildlife.

    1. Thank you for thinking of me, Kate. Yes, the three young men arrested for starting the fire sound like they are unbelievably naïve and definitely foolish. It’s illegal to have any campfire when we are in drought conditions. I’ve been really bothered about the wildlife, too. The foothills are heavily populated with deer, some bear and mountain lions and of course, the smaller animals. It is just upsetting, isn’t it! It’s not yet fully contained, but it’s not out of control, so it should be out soon. On to the weekend. 🙂 Hope you have a good one, too, Kate.

  3. That must be such a worry for you all – I just heard about the forest fires in Australia too. Have a good time with the girls and I hope you get some rain soon. 😀

    1. I hadn’t heard about the fires in Australia, so now I will look into that story. So often I compare our climate and conditions with Australia. You probably wouldn’t be too surprised to know that many of our Southern California trees and foliage are Australian in origin. 🙂 We are hoping for rain, too, Cathy, but it isn’t feeling very likely. Maybe I’ll be surprised! 🙂

    1. The moon was really pretty tonight, too, because of the strange air quality! I was pretty scary at first, Lori, but the firefighters have done such an excellent job of protecting life and property. It’s a shame, though. The hillsides are going to be very scarred for awhile, and the animals are already stressed with little food and water. We need rain!

  4. I lived in upstate New York in the Adirondack Mountains half of my life. One of my scariest kid memories was forest fire season. I remember my dad and my uncles grabbing jackets and shovels, chainsaws and picks and piling into trucks to speed up the mountain. I remember my mom and the aunts making huge pots of coffee and sandwiches for all the volunteers. I remember the fear in their eyes as they paced the floor and gazed up at the mountain. I remember my mom crying over all the dead animals and my dad cursing the waste. A fire in the woods is a terrible thing, not only for the people who dwell there but all the wild animals. To see them fleeing in terror is a sight you will never forget.

    1. What a picture you’ve shared! My goodness, but you were close to the action which would indeed leave indelible impressions. Very frightening. I am really glad that I haven’t had to witness the animals caught in a wildfire. Just knowing that they are threatened and forced to run for their lives, and of course, the idea that so many would be lost, is really heartbreaking. Even though the foothills are very close to heavily populated areas we often have bear, mountain lions and certainly deer that we see often enough for me to have really thought about them on Thursday when the fire was out of control. It’s particularly upsetting because this fire was started through carelessness. I’m so glad you shared your own story. It really adds to a much fuller picture of how devastating these fires can be.

      1. No matter how densely populated the area where you live, there are always small creatures, squirrels, birds, rabbits, and others who are struggling to eke out an existence while we do our best to crowd them out. We take them for granted. Someone should invent a virtual reality program that simulates a wild fire. Everyone who enters a wooded area should have to watch it and experience the raging flames as a wild creature. That might create awareness of what destruction a fire can cause.

        1. That’s a very powerful thought. Frequently actions indicate not just carelessness, but a total lack of any concern for the creatures that live in our local mountains. The overbuilding in the foothills is straining resources and the animals are coming down more frequently looking for food. I honestly wonder what more would even need to be done to create awareness. I tend to think “awareness” exists, but the lack of concern is unconscious deliberation. It really is upsetting. I appreciate your thoughtful comment.

          1. I’ve enjoyed this little mini conversation. I had a little story I was going to share with you about a skunk invasion BUT, I realized it will fit well with my Friday blog topic for the Pagan Blog Project. And, I think I will refer my readers back to your Wildfire blog post as an example. Maybe we can be like Arlo Guthrie in that song Alice’s Restaurant and start a “movement”.

            1. Oh I love that idea! I will be sure to notice, and thank you. I love the “blogging dialogues” that we can contribute to, but also learn from one another. I think it’s so important to remain open to new information and changes and shifts in our perspectives. Thank you for being such an engaged conversationalist!

  5. We’ve been seeing video footage on the news of this horrible blaze. It’s so scary and somehow your pictures are even scarier. I agree with you about earthquakes, though – those and tornadoes scare me the most. Hope things improve soon.

    1. Other than the smell of smoke, we aren’t too aware of the fire at this point. I think because the mountains are so prominent, the fire actually looked closer than it was, but any fire close to homes is too close! I tried to avoid earthquake talk today, but it was everywhere. I do a whole lot better with the fear factor if I don’t think about them! Sounds like you agree. 🙂 I hope you have a lovely weekend.

    1. Thank you, Amy. It was as close as I’ve ever been to a wildfire, but I wasn’t in any danger. The worst part for a little while was being concerned for friends who lived in the evacuation area. But today, everyone is fine. 🙂

  6. I wasn’t aware of this fire, Debra, it sounds terrifying for those in it’s path. At the moment rain is pouring down in the UK, (seems to be our default weather setting) so we have no experience of such a disaster being caused by careless action. I do hope you can breathe lighter this weekend, that the people affected are given all the aid they require and that the wildlife recovers over time. Take care, my friend!

    1. Thank you, Jacqueline. I think we are caught in perpetual summer here! LOL! It’s very odd this year–and here you are with downpours! Global weather patterns always intrigue me. If only we could share. 🙂 We aren’t directly affected by these fires and my friends have been safe, so now our concern is simply for firefighters, who are always in danger. I appreciate your concern. ox

    1. Those beautiful canyons must be dry, Cristine! There’s almost no way to protect against human carelessness–or worse, malicious intent! We just need some rain, don’t we? I hope you are enjoying your weekend, my friend. 🙂

  7. I guess in the meantime, Debra, you may have looked up some reports the present fires here in Australia.
    We have of course summer conditions right now. South Australia, Victoria and some inland areas of New South Wales have reached temperatures of 40 Degrees Celsius, even close to 50 C in some places! Thunderstorm activity caused dozens of fires over huge areas. That there has been enough rain in recent months only increased the fuel for the fires to burn. And with temperatures like this everything dries out very quickly. The high temperatures in South Australia for instance have been going on for more than four days in a row with very strong hot winds. Under such conditions even grass-fires are really huge and difficult to bring under control. Firefighters become very exhausted under such extreme heatwave conditions. Their main concern is to keep the fires away from properties. Water bombing is very necessary in rough hard to reach terrain. There are warnings in place for people to leave on time if their is danger of fires getting too close to their buildings. This seems to keep the loss of life to a minimum.

    1. Uta, I did look up the fires! They are devastating. We were very fortunate this time that there weren’t significant winds. I can understand how even if you aren’t directly in the path of these fires it is very unnerving to have constant news coverage and to be generally aware of the danger to lives and property. I hope people don’t try to be heroic in saving their homes, and evacuate! Years ago we had friends lose their home in a wildfire that swept through the same local mountains as this week’s fire and I remember their description of how they barely had time to respond and get out before the fire swept through. I certainly will be praying for the safety of the Australian firefighters. I’ll keep checking on the web…amazing how much detail I was able to read about–quite an education! ox

      1. I agree, the information you can get these days on the web is truly amazing! For the Australian firefighter – a lot of them volunteers – it looks like this summer season is a very demanding one again. Luckily our Rural Fire Services are well equipped with quite some experience in how how to give people early warnings and advice.

  8. I had to go to Bakersfield yesterday, but I thought about you. I had figured out that you must live close to where they fire is. I’m glad you are OK, but take that breathing seriously. I didn’t think about it when there was a fire here in the canyon that went on for a week at least in the summer of 2012. I happily walked my dogs and messed up my breathing. It’s finally getting better. Take care and stay safe. And now I will go and read your post about Riverside.

  9. Tom McCubbin

    Hi Debra!

    Great shots of the Glendora fire. Maybe you should become a roving news reporter? Anyhow, keep your camera handy. I think we have a long season ahead of us. Yea, earthquake talk kinda scares the bejeezus out of me too!


    1. I was so sorry I didn’t have my camera with me on Thursday when the fire started, Tom. I was using my iPhone and that was limiting. Although I don’t know what I thought I would capture with more closeups! I think I have a news reporter mentality, although I like to think I wouldn’t approach people and ask intrusive questions. LOL!

  10. We got really lucky here in Pasadena: the smoke seemed to have drifted south before turning west, leaving us with beautiful clear air. The dryness itself is doing a number on our lungs, we certainly don’t need the smoke to add insult to injury. Good thing they managed to steer the flames away from any more large neighborhoods.

    1. It’s strange to hear that the fire is only 30% contained, isn’t it. Where did it go? The smell of smoke is so strong, but I don’t see any of it, which is surprising given how low it was when it started. The dear firefighters appear to really know what they’re doing. 🙂 I’m being facetious, of course. It must have been pushed pretty deep into the Angeles National Forest. It was a pretty day today…surprising!

  11. That fire looks WAY too close for my comfort!!!!! Please be safe. And I hope you enjoyed your time with those precious little girls. What is happening with the fires now? Any more contained?

  12. Dear Debra, I haven’t heard news of what is happening today, Saturday, with the fires. My prayer is that the fire is contained, the firefighters and others are safe, those in the path are spared, those not have places of shelter. How devastating this all is, for so many. Gosh, I hope that the needed rain comes soon, though, I suppose that can also pose problems with landslides from soil not ready to absorb water. Mother Nature, and human carelessness, can be such forces of ill, can’t they?

    I hope, in spite of it all, that you are able to have a good weekend. Stay safe.

    1. Thank you for your thoughtfulness to all concerned, Penny. From what I have heard the fire isn’t contained, but late this afternoon people were able to return to their homes and that’s a really good sign, I think. Worldwide weather patterns are surely a giant question mark these days! Mother Nature seems confused, doesn’t she! We are personally just fine. I’ve had some concerns for a couple of very good friends, but they have come through this well.

      I wanted to tell you that tonight we finally saw “My Son Jack” thanks to your recommendation. What a powerful story, and so well done! I always pay attention to your reviews, Penny. Keep ’em coming. 🙂

  13. dandyknife

    Those photos are terrifying. Yesterday I was showing E.g. an NYT map of the drought on your side of the continent. Didn’t know about the fire — or your post — till just now, scrolling back through the WP reader in search of something else; my email didn’t send a notification of your post. Sorry about the late response. Maybe time to knit that neon woollen flag for Darwin so you’ll always know where he is. 🙂 Take care!

    1. It did take a few days for the firefighters to get the upper hand on the fire, but had winds been high the damage would have been much worse. This was small compared to some we’ve experienced in recent years, but like a good friend of mine reminded me, if it’s your home that was lost it doesn’t matter that there weren’t others. All because of carelessness with an illegal campfire! I’m impressed you took the time to look at a map of the drought affected areas. I find that most people living here in the southwest know how to talk about drought, but don’t seem to understand how serious it is. There is still entirely too much water waste. Now Darwin is a VERY water efficient reptile. I hardly even see him take a drink, and he NEVER bathes! 🙂

  14. You know I love the sunshine Debs, but 44C is beyond a joke! I was watching coverage of the Aus Open alongside nightmare shots of the fires, while in the States I have friends who are praying for it to stop snowing! So lucky to be living in a moderate climate. Take good care.

    1. I, too, find it hard to complain about our weather, Jo! LOL! It’s too hot for January, and we desperately need rain, but on a purely personal basis, not considering the strain on resources, I feel better in warm weather. I’m not sure how I’d do in the cold, so I’m grateful for the heat. My friends who were hoping to ski this winter aren’t too pleased, however! 🙂

    1. Three guys started an illegal campfire to stay warm, and the forest is so dry, the wildfire got out of control quickly! It took a few days, but it’s under control now. Thank you for stopping by. 🙂

  15. Marcella Rousseau

    I used to live in LA. Did the Santa Ana winds have anything to do with this? Make sure you check the batteries in your smoke detectors!

    1. The winds haven’t been high at all, Marcella. You know those Santa Anas! Had they been blowing this would have been much worse, I’m sure. It’s just been very dry and with no humidity. This fire was from a careless illegal campfire and that’s what’s particularly upsetting. We don’t live close enough to the hills to be directly affected, but you’re right about smoke detectors anyway. We are probably due a battery check! Thank you for stopping by. 🙂

    1. Thank you for stopping by, Jodee. We have a very good friend who is a fire captain, and perhaps it’s partially due to our relationship with him, but I’m always so keenly aware of the firefighters and the danger they are in. It has taken several days to get the fire under control, but no one has been seriously injured, and that’s the good news. 🙂

  16. I think those two little girls are the perfect plan! How frightening to live in a landscape that is subject to forest fires of such magnitude! Please stay safe.. stay inside.. and play with your two little ones. I hope they can contain that fire without any loss of life!xx

  17. Dear Debra, it’s been five days since you posted about the fire/drought/breathing there in California. I’m hoping that the fire is now contained and that no one died as a result of its ferocity. We had drought conditions here in western Missouri for 18 months when I first moved here, but I don’t remember any significant fires. What did happen is that the ground without moisture dried out and shrank away from the foundations of homes and that caused much cracking and damage.

    Please take care of yourself and stay indoors when breathing lightly outside can be harmful. Peace.

    1. Thank yu for y our thoughtfulness, Dee. We are fine. The fire was 99% contained, as I heard reports this morning, so it did take almost a week! No one was killed, and only minor injuries, so that was very good. The air quality has been very bad, but we have stayed indoors. I’m sure drought takes it toll everywhere. We all need water, don’t we! I hope to post again tonight. It seems I’ve also felt like I’ve experienced a little drought of my own. You know how that goes! I hope you, too, are doing well. ox

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  19. Debra, sorry, I didn’t read this post until now. Glad to hear in your response above that the fire is contained. I worry about California and the drought and pray for some rain and some kind of miracle around water.
    This seems to be a year of adventure with my mom, because we’ve been talking about going to San Diego for Christmas after our Europe trip this summer. So, I’m appreciative of how you’re keeping me up to date on California issues that undoubtedly affect the whole state.
    Take care and have a great weekend, hopefully with air that gets a bit easier to breathe!

    1. How nice to hear that you may be in San Diego after your European adventure, Karen! San Diego is a really lovely city. In fact, I have some photos from a recent visit that I plan to post soon. If I do, I’ll be sure you see them. We do really need rain, but we have been in drought conditions several times in my lifetime, and I wonder if this is just one of those periods. We’ve also had incredibly rainy winters–but that’s not typical, either. I tend to bring some of these issues to the forefront because if all that anyone out of state ever saw was our beautiful sunny weather it would be a false impression of how things really are. There is a downside to 80 degree weather in January! Thanks for stopping by. Yes, the fire was really close to my office, but we weren’t really in any danger. It just gave me quite the bird’s eye view to how it was being managed! ox

  20. I wish we could send you some of our rain to help Debra. We had torrential rain and a spectacular lightning display during the second half at yesterday’s football match. The referee actually had to stop the game for 15 minutes because it was impossible to see what was going on. I’m glad to see from your responses that no one was killed in the fires. And it’s good to know that you’re safe 🙂

    1. Thank you, Martin. We could use some of your rain, that’s a fact! But we are very fortunate that the fire was contained with a minimum of damage, although homes were lost. It’s hard to imagine that three young men could be so careless as to start the fire with an illegal campfire. But it could have been so much worse!

  21. California is burning. Always does. We had a close call too in Point Mugu last year. It is worrying to think how fire happens all the time in California that you really need to drift your mind off it.

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