That's the quandary. The Santa Ana winds right now are very high, so – bizarre as it seems – it's hard to know the situation. Shifting, high winds make everything uncertain, and far more difficult for fire fighters. I'm in a pretty safe area, but I actually got a "Warning” on my phone three hours ago – not to prepare to evacuate, or even an Evacuation Advisory but to pay attention for further information. A friend up on San Vicente Blvd. said his “Warning” was a little more specific – I don't think it was an Evacuation Advisory, though it could have been.
The thing is, although the fire might be 3-5 miles north at the moment, there's a huge difference in the areas. That distance north is heavily wooded, with forests, brush and kindling, all of which is serious fuel. And while houses can definitely burn and pose serious risks, residential areas are not dense like woodlands and more manageable for containing.
Year ago, when I worked for the state park service at Will Rogers State Historic Park, a big wildfire broke out in the Topanga area. (I think I may have written about this a while back.) I drove in to help -- it's about 3-4 miles west of me, north of Sunset Blvd, just west of Brentwood, and as I neared the area, I saw this ahead and pulled over to take a photograph --
This was the result the next day. As you can, the vegetation is pretty much wiped out -- though the homes in the background are intact. By the way, nature is remarkable, and a year later much of the area had grown back and was lush and green.
But that was then, this is now. Though many of the lessons learned then hold now, the conditions are different -- and the location of the fire is different. As are, importantly, the wind conditions.
I woke up in the pre-dawn hours the other day and smelled smoke and thought maybe my place was on fire. But when I realized the smoke alarms weren’t going off, I relaxed that it wasn’t me. It stills smells like a cookout, and the air is a little thick, and when you go to your car, it tends to have ash on it. But those are tiny matters.
It’s hard for me to complain about anything with the fires, though, even with them only a few miles away as I write this, since many people have lost their homes and a great many are being evacuated. Any issues here are insignificant in comparison. And I hope it stays that way. And I expect it to. But I'm leaving my radio on all night for alerts. And have the L.A. City update pages open in my browser. I can think all should be absolutely find, but in the end, what I think doesn't matter a whole lot here.