“Mom, are you ok? I saw a report about the fires on the news. You can come stay with me at my apartment,” my son called to ask.
“Don’t worry, we’re fine,” I told him. I had checked the news and the fires were over the hill north of us in Simi Valley. Another fire had broken out in Bell Canyon but that was east of us. Fires usually burned from North to South down the canyons to Malibu.
Later that night after we had gone to bed I heard the helicopters flying over. It did seem like they were pretty close to our house.
It was 2 a.m. and I lay awake while my husband slept. That’s when I heard the sheriff’s loud-speaker outside announcing, ” Voluntary evacuation.” I went our to my front porch. Neighbors stood outside up and down the street. All of us in our PJs and robes. I went back into the house to wake up my husband.
We were standing outside talking with our neighbors. There was a discussion about what we should do. As we all pondered our options, a sheriff’s car made its way down our street toward us with his loud-speaker warning, ” Mandatory evacuation, mandatory evacuation!”
My next door neighbor remarked he had not seen our neighbors from across the street outside. I told him he better go over and make sure they knew what was happening. He went across the street to alert them. We all ran back into our houses.
I called my son to tell him we were being evacuated and we would be coming to his apartment in the valley. My husband and I ran around the house trying to decide what was important to take with us.
We searched for important papers, wedding and baby albums, a family portrait, special mementos, and enough clothing for a few days. We ran in and out of the house filling both cars with our belongings.
We decided to leave our cat in the house. She was a bit of a wild cat and fought anyone who would try to put her in a carrier. I knew she would be terrified of any strangers outside. We hoped and told ourselves the fire would not come to our house. We did live in a residential area. Not up against any open country or grassy area.
We caravanned to our son’s apartment in the middle of the night. I felt like a homeless person with everything packed in our cars.
It is very disorienting and frightening to be evacuated in the middle of the night. We could not see the fire from our house so it was hard to tell how close it actually was.
I learned later that the disaster plan had been set in place to evacuate neighborhoods as the fire reached predetermined locations. This was to prevent a scene of panicked residents trying to evacuate while firefighters were trying to get to the fire.
We were evacuated for 2 days. I did sneak back to my house during the day to check on my cat. My mother in law wanted me to get my china that had been a wedding present from her.
The main route to my neighborhood had been blocked off by the Fire Department. It gave me an eerie feeling to see my street so empty and abandoned of cars and people.
The largest north-south artery next to my development was a staging area for the firefighters. Fire trucks from several different cities’ departments were lined up along its entire length.
We were lucky and the fire never made its way to our street.
The Fire Season in California usually occurs every year in the Fall when the weather is hot and dry and the wind picks up. It has been coming earlier in recent years because of the drought.
My husband saw a sign on the Las Virgenes Canyon Road the other day warning of Extremely High Fire Danger.