It has not been a quiet week if you were bothered by the Thomas Fire. Monday evening we learned of a fire burning 20 miles away. By midnight the flames had reached the hill above us and it was time to leave.

We have been in our home for twenty-seven years, and on two previous occasions we have had the car packed up and ready to go. The third time was the charm and away we went. We did have about 45 minutes to load stuff, although I generally keep a fair assortment of essentials in the vehicle at all times (FAK, water, sleeping bag, etc) but we were able to augment considerably. A short drive got us out of harm's way and we spent the night in Ventura harbor, where we got a good view of at least ten miles of flame front, with 11 to 15 obvious hot spots.

not much sleep, and the next day we looked for a place for the night. Local motels were booked, and we checked out the established RC shelter. Unfortunately it was in the direct path of the smoke plume from the fire, and hence a no-go.

My BIL, whom we had contacted earlier, really came through for us and secured (paying for our room with patronage points) in nearby smoke free Camarillo - all of a sudden life was pretty decent again.

Checking back the next day, access to our street was blocked, although fortunately we were only half a block from the barricade, and could access our still standing house. We visited regularly that day and the next, securing a few more goodies. By Wednesday afternoon the barricdes were down and we returned Thursday morning. Cleanup will be necessary.

What worked:

ETS!! I have participated in discussion on this forum since 1906 and it really pays off, thanks to the sensible strategies and techniques espoused here, as well as the productive forum discussions. Thank you all....

Organized gear - I could have gotten into the car and driven away without loading a thing and we would have survived. We did know where critical items were located that made the experience more enjoyable.

A dependable head lamp. Our power went out two hours before the fire arrived and my zebralight was invaluable - good runtime and variable brightness levels. There are other good brands as well.

Helpful relative - lots of support and morale boosting

Keeping the gas tank at least half full

Having (and discussing) a plan. After Sonoma, I thought it just might be our time in the barrel (I was right!)

charged and working cell phones - Despite the conflagration, we had very dependable service althoug the towers should have been in the fire.

spousal team work - we were stressed, but we worked out problems and situations rationally and our relationship is stronger for it. Realize you and your spouse will be stressed. Make preparations and allowances.

Sleep prepared. I have started sleeping with my EDC key ring, which includes a light and small multitool. When the alarm comes and the power is out, a handy flashlight is invaluable

PPE - gloves, face masks, head protection make a huge difference. You need to avoid injury at all costs.

Pets - We evacuated with our elderly cat, who was quite a hassle. Mrs. Hikermor would comfort her when she was dazed and confused. It was obvious that comfort was a two way street. The comforter (usually my wife) got just as much benefit from the experience as did our kitty. I have seen and experienced the same thing in my SAR ops.

What didn't work:

Our local CERT - haven't heard a peep from them. I know they have my info, but they apparently haven't been activated.???

Guns and ammo - just dead weight. I did carry away my S&W Mod 27, more for sentimental value than anything else, but it wasn't even close to being needed

An electrical outage is a profound problem. I had a solar rig, which didn't come into play, but it would have worked to keep the cell phones and small items running - rechargeable batteries rock.

That's the news from here, for now. Comments and questions welcome...

Edited by hikermor (12/07/17 10:45 PM)
Geezer in Chief