I had an appointment that I had to go to at noon today, and the smell of smoke was almost overpowering as I stepped outside my house. I knew that there was a fire burning in Sylmar because we had seen that information earlier. There was definitely too much smoke in the air to be from the Sayre fire which is approximately 60 miles from us.
As I drove off in my convertible, I left the top up, although the skies above me were blue, the sun was shining, and it gave every appearance of being a wonderful day. I happen to be very sensitive to smoke and have too many issues with my lungs to want to tempt fate. As I drove down the 22 freeway, I could see two separate fires burning in the direction that I was headed. One looked like it was over in Carbon Canyon, which has been a potential fire waiting to happen for the whole time I have lived in the area, and the other looked like it could be sitting on the 91 freeway.
The closer I got to my destination, the worse the smoke and the worse the traffic. I wasn’t sure that I would be able to get to my destination because when I pulled off the freeway, the main artery was blocked off and there were helicopters flying back and forth overhead. I did manage to squeak through and as I arrived at my destination, I wondered how long it would be before they evacuated the area. I did receive a call from Denny to let me know that the fire, which has been dubbed the Freeway fire was burning at the 91 freeway and Green River (which was one stop down from where I got off).
The smoke raised up behind the buildings in the shape of an arm and looked as if the mighty Thor would bring down his hammer and smash the roofs at any moment. The odd thing was that the smell of smoke was not nearly as bad there, so much closer to the fire than I started out. By the time I was done with my appointment, the smoke had become a blanket across the entire shipping center and above the roofs where the arm once was, I could see flames intermingling with the smoke. By this time, the smoke smell was definitely prevalent.
What seemed strange to me, as I darted into a store to get a filter mask so that I could continue breathing, was that people were standing around looking at the sky and obviously talking about the fires, no masks, handkerchiefs, or any other device to keep the smoke from inflitrating their lungs. I shook my head as I saw one gentleman smoking, and I thought, just what was needed – more smoke.
As I left to go back home, I had to go a different route because I was unable to access the freeway at the point that I got off. Traffic was severely backed up, I am sure because evacuations were in progress. The sky was dark as if night was falling, everyone had their lights on for visibility and it was only 1:30 in the afternoon. I reached a point on the freeway where it was like someone removed the veil from the sun and once again I was in sunshine and blue skies. But as I was driving, I noticed that to my right it was like the buildings had a big gray curtain behind them and nothing could be seen beyond the immediate area.
I am hoping that the firefighters are able to contain the fires soon, but the wind conditions are not helping. For up to date information, please see the Cal Fire site.
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