I can hear the low growl overhead of an air tanker as it heads off to the foothills and the fire. It’s 10:40 a.m. and people are at work now, everyone is doing their job, including the fire personnel. We’re getting on with our day, but with eyes nervously still scanning the hills, sizing up the smoke, watching the trees outside for any sign of wind.
So far, the air is still, and that’s good. This fire is slow-moving (at 75 acres burned) and that gives the helicopters and air tankers time to travel from Santa Maria, one hour north, to where they are needed, here in our own backyard.
We are trying to get on with our day. But history has taught us to be vigilant, not to be complacent with the beautiful weather outside our doors. That weather – so hot and dry – makes this fire season. So we nervously check the internet sites – Noozhawk or Edhat – because our local television station is slower, and can’t pre-empt those oh-so important national talk shows and commercials. When Edhat crashes because its server can’t handle the traffic we feel that first wave of nerves, of being cut off from what’s happening and if the danger is spreading.
Edhat is our eyes and ears on the scene here in SB. If you lose a dog you can go on and report it and probably see a listing already announcing, “Lost Dog found across the street from Bob’s Vacuums.” Edhat makes this community of 90,000 feel like a small town again. And for too many minutes this morning it was quiet and unreachable. Now it’s back up again, the air tanker is here as well as the helicopter that drops its coolants – water from Lake Cachuma. And all we can do is hope and pray the wind stays down until the flames are out.
That’s our real job for today.