Surviving the wildfires

THE Free Press' blogger in America has been describing how the California wildfires have been creeping closer to her home.

Christine Jones, originally from Flamborough, now lives in San Diego, close to where fires forced thousands of people to be evacuated.

She was able to stay at home, but the flames were just a few miles away, and an area bigger than London was damaged.

Things are getting back to normal, after a week of chaos in the Sunshine State, but the whole experience was a frightening one.

Christine told the Free Press: "When the fires first broke out last Monday, most people didn't have any more than 10 or 15 minutes to get out of their houses and some less than that.

"The whole area is affected because people who work along the coast often live inland. As they are evacuated from their homes, the stores and banks etc. where they work have to close because of lack of personnel.

"There was no cell phone service, so that added to the concern of many families as they tried to contact one another. Then there were the animals - horses, goats, llamas and ostriches even, from the many, many ranches and, of course family pets.

"My son went out to help a friend rescue her four horses and then housed a couple of evacuees for a couple of nights in our town of Carlsbad. We were unable to contact him because he only uses a cell phone."

Chris left East Yorkshire 50 years ago and has lived in San Diego for 30 years.

She regularly writes an on-line diary, or blog, on the Free Press' website www.bridlingtonfreepress.co.uk.

Writing last week, Chris said: "It looks like twilight and the smell of smoke is so strong. Actually the sky this afternoon was a dull orange - not fire, just sun through the smoke.

"Nearest fire to us was 15 minutes away, but the worst ones were only about a half hour away in any direction."

To make matters worse for Chris, she is suffering pain in her sciatic nerve, which required an emergency trip to the doctors as the fires were approaching.

"My doctor was evacuated.He was scooting out of the door as I came in. Saw him today. He and his family are safe. The pharmacies are overrun with evacuees seeking medication they'd left behind.

"Banks are closed, many stores closed because personnel had to go home to evacuate, schools are closed for the week, probably no mail tomorrow and the fires burn on.

"We were among the fortunate few who did not have to evacuate, but I kept my eyes glued to the TV – from a prone position."

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