This week there's been a big fire near Camarillo. The fire is referred to as the Springs fire and has received national news coverage. The experience of a large fire nearby is hard to explain to people that don't live in an area that gets wildfires. Sometimes you can see flames on the hillsides. Most of the time there are just huge plumes of black smoke where the fire is burning and grey smoke all around it. The plumes can be seen for miles. I live about 20 miles from my studio and could see the plume of dark smoke while driving to Camarillo. There have also been strong winds gusting and blowing that fan the flames and spread them quickly.
The studio is in an area that was never threatened by the fire, but the smoke has been very unpleasant. The winds move the smoke around and soon the entire area seems overcast. Yesterday afternoon I had the studio door open and realized that not only had lots of dried leaves blown in, but the floor was covered with grayish white flakes. It looked like the carpet had giant dandruff flakes (about 1/4" in diameter) all over it. I realized they were ash flakes. Outside it looked like a very light snow was falling.
From the studio parking lot
A few people I know had to either evacuate their homes or get ready to evacuate. So that means gathering up all important papers, photos, and the few possessions you consider most valuable. What a difficult decision to make. Fortunately, no homes burned down in this fire and most everyone is back at home now. But the fire is still burning and so many firefighters are still hard at work. Fortunately, the winds are stopping, the weather is cooling and the onshore flow is bringing some moisture into the air. All good things.
What is most frightening about this fire is that it's only the beginning of May. The fires don't usually start until September or October after a long hot summer. It makes me wonder what the summer will bring......