My sister lives in Santa Barbara. Last Thursday evening around 6pm she and her husband got a phone call telling them that they had 15 minutes to evacuate their house. A dangerous fire had flared up less than a mile away. They grabbed what they could, put the kids in the car, and took off with embers flying through the air and the fire coming towards their house. They went to their in-laws (who later also had to evacuate) and started listening to the radio. Chances for their house were low. Late into the night they heard confirmation that their neighborhood had burned to the ground. Their hopes sank to near zero. Then, after being up all night, they got a call from a neighbor. She had managed to get back up to their street and told them that miraculously my sister’s house and two others below it were still standing. Everything else around them was gone.
My sister thinks that the fire hydrant on their property might have saved their home. Firefighters must have climbed on their roof, chainsawed off the breezeway connecting their house to a smaller building (a recording studio) and started hosing down their house. The studio ended up burning to the ground, but the main house made it through. Even the ancient oak and eucalyptus trees next to the house survived.
My heart goes out to the over 200 families who lost their homes in the Tea Fire. And my gratitude goes to the anonymous firefighters who saved my sister’s family from losing their home and all their belongings.
Update: A picture of their studio on fire from a CNN video feed: