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Class of October 2014 Part 19

Old 09-22-2015, 04:40 PM
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Originally Posted by BrighterDayz View Post
I do hope that they check in soon-it's the abruptness that's disconcerting. They were such active posters and BAM, nothing.

Dinner out tonight; we have a couple of places with Tuesday specials-tonight is $5 burger night. Will need a jacket this morning. How nice.
$5 Burger Night sounds great; do any of the places serve turkey burgers.
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Old 09-22-2015, 04:42 PM
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Originally Posted by phoebe64 View Post
Crisp fall morning here too. I love the cool nights and warm days!

Went to bed early but was very restless. Back is so stiff this morning as well. Weird. Hopefully will limber up and perk up. Maybe actually have some real coffee. I drink decaf...

Craving fish for dinner after last nights posts. Need to form a dinner plan. Been eating too many burgers, beef and such of late...

Have a good day all.
I've been having some back and upper leg issues lately, too.

Last night I stretched my lower back muscles before I went to bed; it seemed to help.
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Old 09-22-2015, 04:51 PM
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Originally Posted by Mark1014 View Post
Thanks Leigh, and the thing is, I don't think I grasp it all just yet! I'll take it though. Onward.
Thinking that's the best part. Sobriety continues to give as each day goes by. Only getting better and better. Lucky us!
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Old 09-22-2015, 06:29 PM
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I haven't gotten responses from them either. Very strange.

Dee - have you heard from V or Conquest?

Mark - I've been very grateful for my sobriety lately. I remember how awful it was, and I know I never want that again. I feel very strong in my resolve to stay sober, and it's a wonderful freedom.

Thanks Leigh - it has been really scary and weird.


I'm sorry to keep carrying on about the fire, I know it's not very positive, though I'm proving to myself that I can stay sober through something like this. It's just so major for me, and I feel like every day I feel differently about it. It is the subject of conversations at work every day as we have some employees who were affected. Today we just marveled at the enormity of the task of rebuilding. I wouldn't even know where to start. And I guess a lot of what I feel is grief knowing a place so familiar and dear to me will never be the same.

And my heart breaks for all the people and animals who are suffering, especially the family of our friend who died. They are sensitive people. I've seen them grieve a death that was expected, and it weighed so heavily on their heart. I can't even imagine what they are going through right now. It's very likely that they also lost their home.

And also, I'm scared because I realize the same thing could happen here. No one imagined that a fire could be so uncontrollable that our exceptional firefighters would be completely powerless to protect the community. I realize I have a false sense of security because I live in a suburban area, and in my experience growing up California, fires are mostly a country thing. New conversation is going around about areas near my house that are susceptible to the same kind of fire. Those of you who have been to the wine country can probably imagine how a fire could take off out here. I'm just so unsettled by all aspects of this experience.

I used to journal, but I don't anymore since I got sober. Now I just write it all here!

Lazy night here. Husband is working late, so baby and I are having popcorn. My brilliant plan is for us to eat enough snacks throughout the evening that they add up to a meal.
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Old 09-22-2015, 06:35 PM
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Obama ordered federal aid to help us rebuild, I'm so grateful!
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Old 09-22-2015, 06:41 PM
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No contact from either of them for me. I hope all is well.

D
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Old 09-22-2015, 06:53 PM
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I know you guys have heard enough about it, but just in case you haven't , this news article is really incredible:

Revisiting the Valley fire’s initial, terrifying spread
BY MARY CALLAHAN THE PRESS DEMOCRAT on September 18, 2015, 10:53PM09/18/2015
“Immediate need” was the call heard over and over on emergency radios in the first minutes of the Valley fire, as a growing inferno rampaged across Cobb Mountain in Lake County and announced itself as a whirling, roaring, wind-driven monster.
With no time to spare, firefighters from around the region were on order, the first wave of a one-sided fight that saw flames race nearly uncontrolled through rural subdivisions and into neighborhood blocks, torching nearly 63 square miles in the first 12 hours and reducing hundreds of homes to ash.
At least three people have been found dead in the remains — killed, it is believed, in the firestorm that struck last Saturday.
Thousands have fled their homes, with hundreds facing long-term displacement. Six people were still missing Friday, with cadaver dogs searching the burn area for victims.
The blaze currently ranks as the ninth most destructive in California’s history.
The survivors tell of advancing flames that rushed down upon their neighborhoods like a tornado, frantic flights past walls of fire and menacing clouds of black, swirling smoke.
For many, the catastrophic blaze boils down to one fact: From a few burning patches of grass on the northern slope of Cobb Mountain, it took just 12 hours for wind-whipped flames to devour 40,000 acres. From the ignition point, it was 18 miles to the fire’s southern front near Napa County.
“Unprecedented,” is how Cal Fire Division Chief Jim Wright described it. His participation in the fire started with the evacuation of residents first in its path: his neighbors.
“None of us predicted, or could have predicted, how fast that fire moved,” Cal Fire spokeswoman Amy Head said.
Cal Fire Battalion Chief Greg “Bert” Bertelli was on duty when the blaze first started last Saturday afternoon. He was driving over Cobb Mountain between meetings in Middletown and Kelseyville.
When he left Middletown at Highway 29 after lunch, he noticed the wind was picking up — a detail that grabs the attention of any seasoned firefighter.
Bertelli, a 25-year fire service veteran, had been monitoring humidity levels “at rock bottom for days.” It was warm, too, the temperature hovering a few degrees below triple digits.
Head said the wind felt like a “hot hair dryer.”
Bertelli said he was on Bottle Rock Road, about 3 miles past the turn onto High Valley Road at the edge of Cobb, when he got word that a fire had just been reported in the area. It was just before 1:30 p.m. He had neither seen nor smelled smoke while passing by.
But minutes earlier, residents of High Valley Road — a narrow hillside byway bordered by mixed forest, dried weeds and outcroppings of exposed volcanic rock — had found several patches of grass burning in a neighbor’s field and called 911.
In the time before firefighters could get to the scene, neighbors made a short-lived attempt to halt the fire, using a garden hose and even splashing water from a spigot.
But the blaze grew amid winds that would later be measured at up to 40 mph.
“It was an overwhelming fire already,” recalled Troy Nelson, 40, who abandoned the fight with a burned thumb and singed hair. He watched in rising panic as flames swept up the hill behind his neighbor’s house and began incinerating homes.
The first engine — a crew from the Cobb station — had arrived by the time Bertelli doubled back to High Valley Road, and a helicopter with seven elite firefighters from Boggs Mountain State Forest was putting down nearby.
Bertelli saw thick smoke stretched across Bottle Rock Road, and within about five minutes on the scene had twice augmented his request for more ground and air resources.
“I was aware that we had a potential of a rapidly moving fire,” he said.
Two large wildfires had already put Lake County under siege in August, charring nearly 150 square miles of rural countryside about a dozen miles away, to the southeast of Clear Lake, the county’s aqueous heart.
Those blazes, too, ignited in remote, rugged and tinder-dry terrain, with wind to drive them forward. Firefighters were awed by their speedy growth.
But they had seen nothing like the Valley fire.
Bertelli, who would assume operational command of the blaze for its first 18 hours, working alongside Cal Fire Assistant Chief Linda Green and many others, said the initial goal was to hold the blaze west of Bottle Rock Road, where it was headed within its first few minutes.
Several engines had arrived and the helitack crew, split into two groups, was around working the left flank. Wright, the Cal Fire division chief, just called back to duty, was at home nearby, donning his uniform.
Disaster hit on multiple fronts almost at once, within 30 minutes of the first callout. The fire jumped Bottle Rock Road, and flames overran four of the firefighters in the Boggs Mountain Helitack Crew.
The firefighters — Logan Pridmore, Richard Reiff, Niko Matteoli and Capt. Pat Ward — had enough time to deploy portable fire shelters, but they suffered second-degree burns. Ward, who took shelter last, was hurt worst.
In the chaos, they were able to describe something of their location, noting a metal barn that Wright, who was evacuating people on nearby Spring Hill Road, recognized.
He raced to the scene, meeting two of the other helitack members en route and taking them with him.
They found the injured firefighters and carefully loaded them into the bed of Wright’s pickup, covering them with fire shelters. The two uninjured crewmates stayed in the back as Wright drove to nearby Saw Mill Road, where their pilot collected them for a short journey to the Boggs Mountain heliport. The base itself was in the immediate path of flames as the firefighters were loaded into medical aircraft bound for UC Davis Medical Center in Sacramento, where they remained in treatment this week.
Bertelli had started his day with the helitack crew, joining them for breakfast and a morning briefing — a routine part of fire-season communication that he now says helped save their lives.
“There’s lot of things that saved their lives — the equipment they had, their crew cohesion, their courage and their selfless acts,” he said. “Those guys love each other, and they stuck together because, in that moment, that was all they had: the four of them.”
By 3 p.m., 90 minutes after the fire ignited, airborne observers were issuing increasingly urgent and dire reports. The fire was up to 400 acres and was spreading across Cobb Mountain.
The town of Cobb, home to about 2,000 people and one of numerous villages in the area, already was under an evacuation order. By 3:45 p.m., that order would extend to Harbin Hot Springs, a popular clothing-optional resort about 4 miles southeast of Cobb.
An hour later, by 4:41 p.m., Harbin Hot Springs was on fire as flames hopscotched to the southeast, racing up ridgelines that made the inferno visible from Middletown, home to 1,300 people.
The area’s rough, rumpled topography and the accumulation of fuel since the last major wildfire — the 1962 Widow Creek fire — had long elicited concern about the risk of such a blaze.
Four years of historic drought had only made matters worse. Experts earlier this year singled out Cobb Mountain and the nearby 3,500-acre Boggs Mountain State Forest, where a high number of insect-ravaged trees could give fire a foothold, scientists said.
Firefighters watched last Saturday as winds made those trees into matchsticks, fueling the fire’s march to the east and south. The blaze by that point had the markings of a firestorm, creating its own wind and weather.
John Maclean, an author who has written extensively on deadly fires in California and the West, said such blazes are becoming more common and the speed with which they grow can be fatal.
“These things are happening at magnitudes that are frightening,” Maclean said. If a fire is predicted to be two to four hours away, he said, “it’s time to move. It might be (only) 20 to 40 minutes.”
Last Saturday, the wildfire was quickly beyond human control, and it grew exponentially more fierce as it rounded the northern flank of Cobb Mountain, ravaging parts of Cobb and curving south, where it hit Whispering Pines and blew through Anderson Springs.
Two bodies, those presumed to be Barbara McWilliams, 72, and Leonard Neft, 69, would later be found in the area. McWilliams, a former teacher who suffered from advanced multiple sclerosis, never left her house. Neft, 69, a fit and wiry former newspaper reporter, sought to drive and then to hike to safety. His family said his body was found a quarter-mile from his abandoned car.
Block by block, firefighters and law enforcement officials on Saturday were attempting to shield residents from similar fates. Bertelli was sounding his pickup’s siren, yelling at people to clear out.
The fire was competing with its own sounds.
“The fire was actually starting to pulsate,” Bertelli said, imitating a sort of rhythmic locomotive.
“It was the weirdest thing I have ever seen. It’s almost like it was trying to get oxygen.”
Gusts were showering ashes around the area and throwing embers a quarter- and a half-mile ahead of the front, aiding the fire’s spread and its erratic path.
An enormous pillar of smoke filled the sky, turning heads in Santa Rosa, more than 40 miles away.
Cloverdale Fire Chief Jason Jenkins, who was driving north toward Middletown from Calistoga, said the column was a sign that anything in “the path of that fire was going to be a destruction zone.”
In Middletown, residents who had poured down from the mountain gathered along streets and in parking lots, staring up in disbelief at the fury of the fire as they wondered what to do next.
In Hidden Valley Lake, about 8 miles east of Cobb, Andrew Wolf watched the mountain burn from his deck, feeling the wind and eventually seeing embers rain upon his home.
By 4:45 p.m., he said, the blaze was “like a storm coming down the east side of the mountain toward Highway 29.”
Within the next two hours, public safety officials would order residents of Hidden Valley Lake to leave the area in what became a succession of evacuations from Lower Lake all the way south to Tubbs Lane in Calistoga, and east from Middletown to the Napa County line.
Wright said it took courage for fire commanders Green and Bertelli to evacuate such a broad swath of the region. “They saved numerous lives by doing that,” he said.
Indeed, by 7:30 p.m., the fire covered 10,000 acres of the county; and by 10:30 p.m., when it was burning in Middletown, it had more than doubled to 25,000 acres.
Local firefighters who rushed into the area met with chaos, as evacuees clogged southbound Highway 29 in their effort to escape and fire began spreading in multiple directions.
One resident who did not leave, Bruce Burns of Hidden Valley Lake, was found dead days later in a building at his brother’s recycling company just across Highway 29 from Grange Road. The blaze jumped the highway around 6 p.m., extending the firefight into Hidden Valley Lake, home to about 5,600 people. From there, it would race south to Middletown.
Off Grange Road, Jessica Smith, her mother- and sister-in-law were preparing to flee the family ranch when the fire was suddenly at their doorstep.
They had just enough time to move their cars and animals into a roping corral with an earthen floor that they hoped would keep them safe from the encroaching flames. Smith’s husband, Cody, arrived just as the fire closed around them, and for two or more hours they hunkered down, trying to stay calm, as walls of flame surrounded them. The Smiths could see well enough to watch their home burn to the ground.
“It was like being inside of a tornado, but flames,” said 29-year-old Jessica Smith, who is pregnant and expecting her baby to arrive next week. “Everybody was just quietly crying.”
As the fire spread along the east side of Highway 29, all firefighters could do was ensure people were out and try to save whatever structures they could.
“In Hidden Valley Lake, the fire was burning all around us, and we couldn’t tell people where to go,” Monte Rio Fire Chief Steve Baxman said.
In Middletown, starting about 9 p.m., whole rows of houses started to go up in flames.
“It’s the most extreme conditions I’ve seen that lasted such a long duration,” Jenkins said.
Though largely helpless in the blaze’s path, Middletown residents had one advantage over those living in upland communities to the north and west. They could see the fire coming.
In Anderson Springs, just up the street from where the body presumed to be McWilliams was found, Julie Wolf and her family were packing up belongings Saturday night and waiting for an evacuation notice she never received. It was Wolf’s adult son who would later shoot an iconic, widely viewed video of the fire as the family drove to safety through an apocalyptic scene of flying ash, flames and torched trees.
Wolf’s son and daughter-in-law, visiting from the Bay Area, had seen the fire as they approached her home around 4 p.m. and were panicked even then about getting her out. But Wolf, 60, said as they collected essentials, they could neither see nor hear the fire from her home past the end of Van Dorn Reservoir Road, where Anderson Springs drops away to a canyon.
When they finally pulled out in three vehicles about 8:30 p.m. and then rounded a curve onto Anderson Springs Road, the world was ablaze.
“Every single thing was on fire. Every single house, telephone pole, tree,” Wolf said. “It wasn’t sneaking along through the grass and then maybe igniting a tree, or something. It was like a 30-foot wall of heat.”
By 1:30 a.m., 12 hours later, the blaze covered 40,000 acres and evacuation orders extended into Pope Valley in Napa County.
Flames would cross into eastern Sonoma County by 4 a.m. and inflict what one firefighting official called “unprecedented” damage to equipment and facilities in The Geysers geothermal fields.
In the fire’s wake, roads were lined with burned-out cars and downed power poles. Propane tanks exploded, illuminating home sites reduced to rubble. Emptied of people, the area was eerily quiet.
Firefighters who spent the night seeking to save homes and the high school in Middletown were dumbfounded at the destruction.
Baxman forecast the harsh reality that would confront residents by morning.
“When daylight comes and they see the devastation,” he said, “it’s going to be unbelievable.”
Head, the Cal Fire spokeswoman, said she remembers looking around at the faces of her colleagues while the firefight was hottest.
“We were all in awe of what was happening,” Head said. “It’s not something people normally see. Truly, just a catastrophic event.”
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Old 09-22-2015, 06:56 PM
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02.27.15 :): ▽VII△VIII
 
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Okay, I just have to say I'm really impressed that SR actually let me post that whole thing in one post.

The article says ninth most destructive fire, but since that was published, it's been promoted to third.

What is the practical difference between being obsessed with something and becoming an expert on it? The second one sounds much better.
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Old 09-22-2015, 07:00 PM
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Wow, Briar.

Surreal.
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Old 09-22-2015, 07:18 PM
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And cruising the newspaper just now, I looked at a batch of photos of people standing there looking at what used to be their houses. It's a small town - I seriously know at least half of them. My high school principal, two teachers, the guy who owned the local tire shop which is now just a field of rims, people I went to high school with, my brother's buddies, my mom's friends, my uncle's in-laws, a lady I used to work with at the local paper way back when I was a reporter.

Okay, can you guys imagine what I'd be like if I were drinking right now?
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Old 09-22-2015, 07:26 PM
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The damage, destruction and loss are truly incomprehensible; I simply can't begin to imagine.

I continue to stand in awe of your strength, perseverance and courage, Briar.
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Old 09-22-2015, 08:34 PM
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Thank you Leigh. I probably shouldn't obsess so much, but I'm just trying to understand it.

Snack dinner was a success: popcorn, carrots, melon, string cheese, and a piece of chocolate. Done deal!
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Old 09-23-2015, 02:52 AM
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Originally Posted by Briar View Post
I probably shouldn't obsess so much, but I'm just trying to understand it.
Maybe it's your way of processing it so that you come to some sort of acceptance of the reality of it all.

I really liked your comment about the freedom sobriety brings. You've said something along those lines before and I quite like that perspective. Good thought to start the day. Gym time.
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Old 09-23-2015, 03:55 AM
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That's very hard seeing so many you know adversely affected Briar. It makes one feel quite vulnerable and helpless. After all, what can you do?

It's the Jewish Day of Atonement. I think we can all use some of that.
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Old 09-23-2015, 04:01 AM
  # 395 (permalink)  
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Prayers for peace, renewal, and love for all those many many folks affected in whatever way, Briar

D
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Old 09-23-2015, 06:23 AM
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Please vent away Briar. I echo what Mark said in regards to acceptance. That's a lot to process. It reminds me of the aftermath of Sandy around here. And the year before that it was the superstorm that nailed us with heavy snow in October with all the leaves still on the trees. Being in the arboriculture business we had quite the mess to deal with.

I feel really different this time around. Really, really good in fact. It's been less than two weeks since my last drink, but something's different this time around. I've finally accepted all this I think. I'm excited for the future. I've got a lot of tools and support now in my kit. It's all making a difference. It took a couple years to get to this point, but I don't care. I finally feel free now. I just gotta stay focused. I want it more than anything right now.

Have a great day team.
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Old 09-23-2015, 10:07 AM
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Great to hear that things are going well, Arbor. (spoiler alert: it gets better and better.)
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Old 09-23-2015, 10:08 AM
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Venuscat and Conquest: thinking of you and hope to hear from you soon.
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Old 09-23-2015, 10:28 AM
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Wow, Briar. Just so hard to wrap my head around such destruction. What an awful time for that community, so many communities.
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Old 09-23-2015, 07:43 PM
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See you tomorrow, Octsobers.Hope we hear from venuscat and Conquest tomorrow.
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