It’s absolutely terrifying how quickly one’s life can change.
The Tea Fire broke out close to 6pm on Thursday, November 14. Like so many disasters, it arrived with very little warning and would let nothing hinder its path.
For me, the morning started like no other. I was without both girls, so I took a run up Shoreline Drive. I savored each and every minute I spent in rhythmic breathing while enjoying the typical Santa Barbara vista — clear blue skies above sparkling blue waters peppered with sailboats, yachts, and pelicans, all stretching out to meet the Channel Islands. As I took in this always stunning view, a stronger than normal breeze kept the perspiration dry on my face.
I ran past an elderly couple strolling hand-in-hand through Shoreline Park, smiled at 4 year olds riding the shoulders of their parents, nodded at runners with and without jogging strollers, watched a pack of cyclists climb effortlessly up Shoreline Drive, and eyed a group of divers gearing up for a morning dive at Leadbetter. None of us knew what would happen less than 12 hours later.
At 6:30 that evening, my morning of calm and beauty was forgotten as my family and I watched vibrant orange flames reaching toward the sky. Thick grey pillows of smoke were pushing upwards. The hill was on fire. And we could see the flames from our front yard. Flames 10 stories high driven by roaring gusts of sundowner winds up to 70 mph were ruthlessly devouring homes and forcing thousands to safer environs. Throughout the night, sirens were blaring and the air was getting smokier. In parts of Santa Barbara and Montecito, it was raining orange embers.
We watched the flames well into the night and monitored the destruction this Tea Fire was causing. Our hearts go out to all who lost their homes…friends, co-workers, friends of friends and friends of co-workers. Close to 200 homes have perished. The fire still rages on.
Zaca Fire, Gap Fire, and now Tea Fire…the 3rd fire since we moved here 18 months ago…the first fire we could see from our front yard. At this rate, should we expect another 6 fires by the end of F’s residency? That’s a frightening thought.