When I woke up yesterday morning there was a smoky haze on the mountains behind my house.
I could tell there was a fire back in the canyon, but it looked small – no big deal.
A few hours later, in spite of the work by fire crews, it was clear the fire was growing.
The Cleveland National Forest on fire – photo from my backyard.
Eleven (!) fire helicopters began what would become all day flights to the fire.
Whenever there’s a fire in the area, the helicopters use the lake behind my house as a water source.
Orange County Fire helicopter as it descends to refill it’s tank with lake water.
Yesterday, there were times when four helicopters at a time would be at the lake getting water.
Usually they only send one or two helicopters.
I knew the fire must be growing quickly if there were four helicopters filling up water tanks at any given time.
Having grown-up in Southern California, I don’t get overly concerned about fires.
They happen all the time here.
But, when the flames became visible cresting over “my” mountains, I definitely took note.
Flames were visible cresting over the mountain by 10:00 a.m.
I checked the fire department’s website and read that 155 acres were on fire, two hundred firefighters were assigned to the fire, one firefighter was injured, eleven helicopters were dropping water, and seven air tankers were dropping nearly 12,000 gallons of fire retardant per fly-over.
An air tanker dropping more fire retardant.
The cause of the fire is unknown.
Most likely someone tossed a cigarette out a car window and/or thought it would be a good idea to light a campfire back in the canyon.
Hopefully it wasn’t caused by an arsonist.
The brush on the hills is incredibly dry right now.
It burned quickly and it burned big.
At times the fire scene looked eerie and surreal.
In the afternoon, I walked behind my backyard fence to get a couple close-up helicopter photos for you.
It’s kind of amazing to watch the efficiency of the helicopters.
Some of the fire helicopters have hoses that suck the lake water into large water tanks on board.
The helicopter pilots are so skilled.
They manipulate their way through smoke and ash.
They hover a few feet above the lake until their water tanks are full.
Some of them dip enormous baskets into the lake and then continue on their way.
Helicopters with dumping baskets are still used to fight wildfires.
By nightfall, there were no visible flames to be seen from my backyard.
I’m not sure if the fire is completely out, but the worst is definitely over.
I’m so glad there weren’t any big winds to make things more dangerous.
And, as always, I’m very grateful to the men and women who put their lives on the line to protect the rest of us.