California wildfires. Enough already…but we’re just getting started!

I’ve been reluctant to write about the current California wildfires. For one thing, they’re ever-present.

Once it was assumed that the biggest fires were in “fire season,” the fall months when the Santa Ana winds kick up. But this week I’ve heard at least a dozen different news reports refer to the reality that in very dry California, wildfire season is now year-round.

In early June I looked out my office window and watched a tiny spot of white smoke rapidly turn black and the small blaze shift to an out of control wildfire in the foothills above Azusa and Glendora.

The Sand Fire in July wasn’t all that close to home, but the wind patterns sure made it look like it was just up the street!


The most recent Southern California fire, the Blue Cut Fire north of San Bernardino, is now nearly contained with all evacuation orders affecting more than 82,000 people lifted yesterday. Utility companies are working hard to get service back up.

Very fortunately no deaths were reported in this fire, but at least 105 homes were destroyed.

At this time there are very dangerous wildfires in many western states, including Washington, Oregon, Wyoming and Montana. I’m sure there could be more.  On average, more than 100,000 wildfires clear 4 to 5 million acres of land in the United States every year.  There are six major fires currently being tracked by Cal-Fire, a 100-year old Department of Forestry and Fire Prevention known to respond to an average of more than 5,600 wildland fires in California each year.

I’m deeply concerned when I read about fire anywhere, but when we’re speaking of the California fires I have associations with the locations and I can envision the towns affected.

Right now I’m very concerned about the scope of the 27,500-acre Chimney fire in San Luis Obispo County. and the Soberanes fire, further north toward Big Sur. Both of these areas are very special to us and to anyone who knows them!

I’ve written before about Hearst Castle and our love for the beautiful Central Coast. And Big Sur was once the location of our yearly family reunion. We loved going to Big Sur once a year, but it was a large wildfire a few years back that prevented us returning one year, and then following that fire some of the roads and campgrounds were nearly impassable for at least a year following.


One view of Hearst Castle

First concern is always the lives that are endangered, and there have been a few lost lives; some people have refused to evacuate their homes and have stayed too long. The firefighters are always uppermost in our concern. But it’s also tremendously challenging to those with pets, livestock, and in some instances, we’ve seen major evacuations of exotic animals.

In June, the Sand Fire threatened The Wildlife Waystation, a 160-acre exotic animal sanctuary in the Angeles National Forest just north of Los Angeles, forcing the evacuation of about a dozen big cats as well as other exotics, but they represented just a fraction of all the animals needing rescue. There are wonderful examples of community and private action to help support the care of animals.

The toll to wildlife in the burn areas and the dramatic change to their habitat should they survive in the first place, simply hurts my heart.

I’ll conclude with a few photos from the gorgeous San Simeon/Hearst Castle area we love so much. There are animals there, too, including zebra and off-spring from other animals once part of William Randolph Hearst’s private zoo.

If you’re inclined, a prayer or two would be nice. Fire season is just getting started.



61 thoughts on “California wildfires. Enough already…but we’re just getting started!

    1. One of my dearest friends in Texas has been telling me about the buckets and buckets of rain they’ve had–and very unusual for this time of year. And then we see Louisiana, of course. One thing we can say for sure, we get what we get! On a personal level I’m hardly even inconvenienced, Nancy, but I mean it when I say my heart hurts! I’d love to have your rain! LOL! I say that now…

  1. Big Sur is a special place for so many people including me. My friend lost his house there a couple of years ago . I am in the Sierras and the air is hazy from all the fires. Let’s hope we have a wet winter.

    1. Gerlinde, I am so sorry to hear about your friend’s house! I think that must have been the fires that changed our family reunion patterns. I recall how terrible those fires were. You’ve probably had some scares with the Sierras, too, from time to time I’d think. The Sierras are so beautiful, but like all the ranges, vulnerable! Maybe we will have a wet winter…we can still hope, right? Thank you for stopping by and sharing your comment. I also enjoy learning more about where you live. 🙂

      1. I live in Santa Cruz but we have a cabin in Pinecrest. As we were driving to Pinecrest from Santa Cruz I noticed how dry some of the countryside was. A lot of trees have died in the Sierras and are being taken out.

  2. After so many fires in Big Sur, it’s going to be very difficult for the area to recover. We have a similar problem up here in Lake County near Clear Lake. Two major fires in two years, that with the continuing drought make the problem so much worse.

    It is in my thoughts and prayers.

    1. I almost can’t bear to think about Big Sur, Andrew. Just a month or so ago we were making plans to travel back up to that wonderful place. Some of the most beautiful places in the state are under such stress, and that deeply concerns me–really all of us!

  3. I didn’t know about these fires Debra ~ they sound so scary and devastating! Here in the UK we moan about our torrential downpours (although this summer has been unusually dry), while you are praying for rain. I pray for balance and that you keep safe, my friend! 🙂

    1. Thank you, Jacqueline. Your words remind me precisely of what we need…balance! These fires are so destructive, but too much rain is as well! We aren’t in any danger, but we have had friends and family who were evacuated from their homes for awhile, and that was worrisome. And if you could send some of your rain our way, that would be lovely. 🙂

  4. It’s hard for anyone who hasn’t experienced a fire ‘close at home’ to realize how catastrophic in just minutes it can be – it’s terrifying. Sending my prayers and …wishes for rain! 🙂

    1. Thank you for your care and concern, Marina. I know you also share my concern for the wildlife and pets. I’m still hopeful that we’ll have significant rain this fall and winter. I would do a happy dance. 🙂

    1. Thank you so much, Colleen. You are so dear. Our niece and her family were evacuated for several days this past week, and thankfully it ended well for them, but realizing how many thousand people have been affected by numerous fires just boggles my mind. I really appreciate your kind and thoughtful words.

      1. I’m glad to hear they are okay Debra. I cant imagine that kind of fear, worry and inability to protect one’s place. I continue to pray as I send this to you, for everyone’s well being and for the fires to be contained.

  5. Prayers, prayers, seems like so many more prayers this summer, but maybe it’s just because the more “connected” we’ve all become, the more aware of the needs we’ve all become. Adding my prayer for your safety and some meaningful rain in those areas where it’s most needed.

    1. Karen, what a thoughtful thing to say. I think you’re right. There is a strong connection that has linked so many of us and where I once would hear a story that concerned me I didn’t have “faces” linked to them. Now we sure do! It’s made the world feel smaller, and for that, I’m appreciative. Thank you for your prayers. I do believe that’s what we need!

  6. Debra,
    So sad to hear about all the fires out west. Such a beautiful part of our country needing so much more rain than you’re getting.
    Unfortunately, I am afraid this is all a part of our world’s changing climate, with extreme weather some places and no rain elsewhere. As crazy as it sounds now, I wouldn’t be surprised if we will have to find ways to ship water around the country from high water locations to low. I really hope we begin a big shift to renewable, clean energy and other measures that cool the atmosphere soon.

    In the meantime, my prayers go out to everyone affected by the fires, and the animals and other wildlife too. We’re living through as time of big transformation, I hope we can collectively come together to restore and protect ecosystems everywhere.


    1. Ah, Karen! I so agree with you about the effects of climate change and weather patterns that have shifted. I am deeply concerned about the environmental challenges that are so prominent. I often wonder about what it would take for a more unified effort in protecting the natural world and the fragile ecosystems. Your prayers and concerns are deeply felt. Thank you, my friend.

    1. I’m with you on the arson, Jim. I was reading that statistically almost all wildland fires are either a result of arson or human negligence. It kind of makes your head explode, doesn’t it! I was reading articles from the Oregonian on-line and learning more about the fires in your state. I suppose because we have so many we don’t often hear news reports of fires elsewhere, but the entire west is really vulnerable right now. I haven’t entirely given up on the idea that it may one day rain again! I’ve almost forgotten what that’s like!

    1. Some of my Australian blogging friends are the best at really understanding. Our climates and conditions are very similar and they experience those awful bush fires! It really is worrisome. I just think some of the currently threatened areas would be scarred forever if there’s fire, and it’s hard to accept that possibility. But then I look at parts of Louisiana under water and the loss of life. Every region around the world has climate challenges and environmental struggles. The fires are just so violent. The fire near Hearst Castle appears to be moving in another direction. And the fire closes to us is now 100% contained. That was some good news today! I’ll take it! Thank you, Frank.

  7. I always think of you when I hear about the fires. We don’t get many here in the northeast. It seems so devastating and I worry about all the wildlife. It’s hard for anything to outrun a fire.

    1. Thank you, Kate. It’s interesting, isn’t it, how because of blogging we now have names and faces to connect to stories across the country. It makes a nice point of connection. And yes, I, too, just feel sickened by the loss of wildlife. And as I said, it’s clear that when the fires are finally contained, the damage to habitat is years away from restoration. With homes and people so invasive into those areas, as it is, the animals have a hard time. I think it’s interesting that news reports only say so much and don’t go into the details of how the animals are affected. I think that’s because most of us just couldn’t take it! We really don’t want to know. 😦

  8. Prayers for everyone in its path and the firefighters whose lives are always on the line. We’ve visited that area and it’s beautiful. My daughter was there last week, coming down the coast and wanted to cost Big Sur. She said they close the coast highway in the evening. So very sad.

    1. I’m concerned for the firefighters, too, George. One of our friends is a local fire captain and shared that his company has already sent crews to seven different fires. The exhaustion alone would be worrisome. And you’re so right about the beauty in the Big Sur area and Central Coast. Like your daughter and her interest, we were just talking about making a trip up there this fall, but it looks like once again that won’t be happening. I hope your daughter will have another opportunity before too long. It’s very special and I hope we’ll hear of containment soon. Thank you so much for stopping by and sharing.

  9. How horrific, Debra! When I heard that the Hearst Castle was threatened, I immediately thought of your post. It gave me more information about that estate than anything I’d seen previously. These fires will affect the wildlife for years to come, having destroyed much of their habitat.105homes destroyed? I cannot imagine the emotional toll of those affected. THis is all so very tragic.

    1. I’m so glad you recalled the post about Hearst Castle, John. It’s such a historical treasure, and it’s hard to even imagine how vulnerable it could be. I stop myself occasionally, though, and remember that it’s no more valuable than someone’s private home. The 105 homes were lost in one fire alone. I have no idea the tally if all were combined. So the property loss is terribly significant to those who are either displaced from their homes or lost businesses, but on a personal level I really do mourn the loss of habitat and feel such a concern for all the animals that will struggle for survival even after the fires have long been extinguished. Thank you for your concern as well, John.

  10. Oh, Debra, my heart just breaks for all those who continue to be in the line of fire and my concern deepens for the frequency and force of the fires. My concern is for you and your family as well.

    Here I sit, fretting about the wildlife closest to me and how the loss of the 2 acres adjoining ours is displacing them, not to mention the dozens of trees that have been felled. I can’t begin to imagine the devastation and loss for so many, many people and how wildlife will be impacted.

    Take care, my friend. I wish I could send some of the rain we’ve had your way.

    1. Thank you, dear Penny, and your comment touches me, because I know how much you share in the concern for wildlife everywhere, and your neighboring losses are no less significant than the larger open spaces. I am honestly of the opinion that any loss of habitat and disruption to even the smallest of species is reason to be deeply concerned. California has a lot of open space, remarkably, and probably human encroachment is more disrupting than wildfire. I think I just started “preaching to the choir” so I need not say more. LOL! I think when normal rainfall cycles return, and I believe they will, it will be so interesting to see if we continue to be conservative waiting for the next cycle! I do think about all the water that is being diverted to fight these fires! Just imagine!

    1. Thank you, Jo. Wildfire is a natural and cyclical occurrence in California and all the western United States, but the drought has just made it that much worse. I can’t imagine the intensity of concern for homeowners in some of the canyons, foothill and mountain areas. My husband frequently says, “I think it’s a good thing we are flat-landers!” I think he’s right.

    1. That was a huge fire that encroached on Apple Valley, Laurie. Our niece and family did need to evacuate for a few days from their home and for awhile they didn’t know how they fared. Fortunately, they are fine. Here I am giving you another book recommendation! I was fascinated with “The Big Burn,” by Timothy Egan. Again, like the hummingbirds, I think it’s a book you’d really enjoy. The “Great Fire” of 1910 burned 3,000,000 acres, some of that area was in northern Idaho. So many lessons learned in that fire…and since Idaho is your new home, it might really interest you. 🙂 It’s funny, I almost never share book suggestions in my blogging comments, and I’ve given you two in two days! LOL! Thank you for stopping by, and also for sharing the post. I appreciate it.

  11. I always think of you when I hear about these horrible fires, Debra, and pray that you’re not affected. I feel so bad for everyone who’s lost their homes and also for all the loss of natural beauty. It’s so frustrating to me that in one area of the country there’s too much water, water that’s needed so desperately in California. You’d think by now there’d be some kind of cross-country water-sharing system. We send our prayers out to everyone there, and Daisy sends you reassuring Havachon hugs. xoxo

    1. Thank you so much for your kind words and Daisy’s hugs as well! I know you have strong environmental concerns and you understand how disturbed I am with lingering drought and some of the more damaging effects. I doubt you’d be shocked, but you’d still be dismayed to see the incredible growth that continues in California despite the lack of rain and dwindling resources. Huge water-thirsty homes are replacing the modest suburban home, and it seems so foolish to me. In Southern California, rain, when we do have it, flows right into the ocean. We have few catch basins. Brilliant planning, huh? Oh well…I should definitely not get started down this road. Once I start it’s hard to hold me back! 🙂

  12. I’m very glad to hear no one was called in the Blue Cut Fire, but I imagine the damage to property and the disruption to people’s lives must have been hard for many people. 😦

  13. Although I live in the Boston area now, I lived in the Bay area for over 20 years, and we lived in fear of the fire season every summer/fall. I visited your area often, and of course Big Sur and the San Simeon area. Now, we watch the news every night (some nights the national news doesn’t include what’s going on with the CA fires). We wait and watch and hope that the fires are extinguished. Thanks for this post with your photos – excellent to bring it on ‘home’ to all of us who read your blog.

  14. Every time I hear about a fire in California, I think about you and your family and worry that they might come your way. Thankfully you have been spared.

    1. Thank you, Karen. The fires have been a lot to consider lately, but currently they’re under control. In fact, this last week has been absolutely beautiful. I wish I thought it would last, but it won’t. We’re learning a lot about resilience. LOL!

  15. So scary!

    We were once in the region, in Santa Cruz shortly after a huge fire. The air was still thick with pollution weeks later. The devastation to wildlife, property is awful. Lets hope that this year rains will come sooner and the damage is lessened. I so fear for people, wildlife….

    I grew up in South Africa on a hillside which got very dry and we lived in fear of the smell of a fire in dry season.

    Big Sur, the whole region is so gorgeous! I did wonder why the heck there were zebra in California, saw them alongside the highway 1 last year.


    1. I’m so glad I could explain the zebras, Peta. 🙂 You’ve experienced the aftermath of a big fire and you know how distressing it can be for a long time after the fire. So much is affected. Your terminology in describing the “dry season” in South Africa tells me you really do understand. There are times when the humidity is so low and the air feels like it could just explode! Thank you so much for stopping by and sharing your experience with me.

  16. I can understand you worries for wildfires. It seems like they are intensifying for every year. I hope you will be spared any direct fires yourself (good that you have been so far), but more so hope that no one will lose their lives anywhere.

    1. We do have friends who are firefighters and when we have the fires the different stations are sent to assist others. I think that the fatigue must be incredible! Currently the fires are under control, and we’ll see what September and October, typically very fire-prone months, give us!

  17. I’m saddened to hear of your ongoing drought and the wildfires Debra. The loss of life, be it human or animal is particularly distressing. With the firestation just 400yds down the road from me I, like you, always spare a thought for the firefighters whenever I hear the sirens and the engines race past on their way to a shout. My prayers for rain are with you – and I will be posting an image when I write about my Kenworth truck that I hope will trigger rain in the real world for you!

  18. Pingback: Rolled Gold – Images from Finchley

    1. It’s so true, Cristina. I think about the fires and our lack of rain, but when I hear about some of the flooding as we just saw in Louisiana, I think that’s so terrifying and I wonder what that much rain would mean in our parched land. It takes a lot of courage, yes, and definitely resilience. I hope you’re doing well. I’m been thinking of you with your big move.

  19. It was pouring cats and dogs when I was watching the news about San Bernadino fire. I was hating that we get such a downpour while other side of the globe don’t get any. I really feel sorry for California. I always have to check in with my family whenever I see fire reports on the news. I do pray for rain and safety of California.

    1. Thank you for having a concern for a state you know very well, Rommel. As you recall, I’m sure, we still have at least two months of high heat and fire vulnerability. I can’t even remember the last time it rained cats and dogs! 🙂

    1. Thank you for your concern, Dina. The fires are really terrible. The fires I wrote about are currently under control or completely extinguished, but in California September and October are prone to fires, so we’ll see. Thank you so much for stopping by and sharing your concern.

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