Fire, Part 1
My in-laws live in northern San Diego County, in a little town called Fallbrook. It's an avocado-growing community spread out amoung the hills and connected by small, twisty roads snaking their way through the hills. When the Rice fire jumped the nearby 15 Freeway, many residents, including my 70-year-old mother-in-law, had to evacuate with very little notice. No time to grab anything at all, really. To make this have a more personal twist, my 3-year-old daughter was visiting her at the time.
My first contact with them was yesterday afternoon. My daughter and mother-in-law had moved from the hillside house to a friend's house in downtown Fallbrook. The downtown area is less susceptible to fires than the surrounding hills, so they were safe there, for a time.
A few hours later my wife called that friend's house for an update and was told that the local fire department, 10-men strong, had orders to evacuate the whole town. We were also informed that the friend had chosen to stay in Fallbrook, but my mother-in-law, and daughter, had gotten into their car and evacuated. To add to the confusion of this, my mother-in-law doesn't own a cell-phone. All we knew from the internet information was that Fallbrook had been evacuated south to shelters in Oceanside and we had no way of knowing where my mother-in-law or daughter were, let alone their condition.
At this point I would have driven down there to pick them up, but there's only two highways leading there, the most direct one, the 15, was closed. The indirect one, the 5, led south to Oceanside but, in the massive confusion with a quarter of a million evacuations, that freeway was stopped dead. Driving down there was not an option. I had to trust in my mother-in-law and the people around her. This was Monday evening.