It is ironic that right after my post on smoke taint another wildfire erupted and this time a little too close for comfort.
We had been following the news of the Valley Fire in Lake county over the long holiday weekend and I must say that it was a bit daunting to watch the fire spread with such great velocity. I kept refreshing the Cal Fire web site to get any update I could. Looking at the map, the fire was a mere 12 miles due east of us but it was just so hard to get a grip of the enormity of it all on the small scale map.
From Los Angeles, I  checked in with our neighbors up the hill who reported that while ash was falling and the skies were smoky, so far the fire was not moving in our direction. They also offered to check in on our house and the vineyard just to make sure. The next  email was from Bill Arbios to report that the scheduled Monday harvest on our hill would not be happening because access to Pine Mountain Road was being restricted for evacuation purposes. The CHP was positioned at the road below with talk of some form of evacuations that might take place. I checked again with my neighbors and so far, they had not been told to leave the mountain (although they had packed their cars with items they wanted to save just in case,) and they reported that the house and vineyard were fine. Nonetheless, with the winds so unpredictable and blowing so strong and with the brush so dry I was tempted to just get in the car and leave for Cloverdale to see if there was anything I could do. I felt so helpless. We watched the images of lives being transformed in an instant, of homes being burned to the ground, of businesses being lost, and then realized that there was nothing really that we could do except hope. So many emotions were going through my mind…a lot of ‘what if’s’…what if the wind direction changes…what if the roads are blocked for days…what will happen to the harvest?  We were  fortunate that the next day brought cooler weather and light rains which washed the ash away whatever ash might be sticking to the vines. We felt a sense of relief to say the least and also grateful for any rain that could help the firefighters! The harvest is set to happen, all be it a week later. We owe a special thanks to Bill and Susan, Tim and Kandy, and Glen and Jerry for looking out for us, we are glad you are safe!! And of course a debt of gratitude for those incredible firefighters who continue to battle this inferno.
As of this writing the fire is 40% contained but has consumed an incredible 73,000 acres and many homes and buildings. Homeowners are returning to Middletown and Cobb to find their houses destroyed and their lives changed forever.

If you would like to donate to help those who have suffered losses due to the Valley Fire, take a look at this link: