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Sunday, May 18, 2014

Carlsbad Fires

Wednesday May 14 started out like any other day in our beautiful community of Carlsbad. The kiddos and I went to the gym, then we met up with my mommy group to go swimming at a friend's community pool to beat the heat wave we had been experiencing. We arrived at the pool which was less than a mile west from our home and as we were getting the kids changed and sunscreened, we noticed a huge black smoke cloud in the sky in the direction of our house and where we had just come from.

We all hopped online and began texting/phoning husbands to see if anyone could tell us where it was coming from. A few of my friends who live close to me decided they wanted to head home to check on pets and close up windows. By the time we all decided to leave, which was only about half an hour after we had arrived, ash was falling into the pool at an alarming rate.

Avery's school is where the black cloud is in this photo

Our community is on the left side of the street in this photo

The fire was dangerously close to homes and ended up claiming a few

Driving away from our home, such a terrifying sight

Meanwhile, Alex was at the office 2 miles east from our home and told me he was going to head home to get Roo, close the windows and grab our computer and hard drive with scanned documents and photos, and that the kids and I should get out of there and head south. I was freaking out at this point as I had also received an email from Avery's preschool saying simply that the school was in the path of a wildfire and that they were evacuating the kids immediately. Even though Avery wasn't in school that day, this scared me because her school is almost directly east of our community less than a mile away and the winds were fiercely blowing west.

A terrifying shot of Aviara Oaks Elementary which is very close to our home.

We headed to a restaurant in Encinitas to meet up with Alex (The Lumberyard which was INCREDIBLY accommodating to us and a few other evacuees that were there. They let us have our dog inside and bought lunch for our kids and beers for us. We were so touched by their kindness.), feed the kids and watch the news. I was so happy he was with us and we were all safe, I lost my composure and cried a little bit. Watching the news and seeing communities VERY close to ours with huge flames and raging winds all around was so overwhelming.

It was decided with the unpredictability of the fire due to the winds and heat, the smoke and poor air quality and the temperatures being unbearable in our home with all the windows closed and no air conditioning, that we would stay in a hotel for the night. At the same time, fires had sprung up in Oceanside preventing us from driving north to stay with Alex's family as we had originally considered doing. We went home to quickly grab a few essentials. Our neighborhood looked eerie in the orange tint with ash covering the ground, and no cars parked in the driveway, but so far it was safe.

We checked into a hotel in Mission Bay with two other families that lived close to us. The air was clear and the kids had a blast in the pool for the whole afternoon and evening. Us parents were finally able to relax and we ended up thoroughly enjoying our "evacu-cation" as we had dubbed it.

We were able to return home the next afternoon and by Saturday the Poinsettia Fire as it had been called, was 100% contained and all evacuations were lifted and roads were re-opened. Sadly, several other fires had sprung up east (Cocos Fire in San Marcos) and north of us (Camp Pendleton/Las Pulgas) further draining our resources and exhausting our heroic firefighters.

In Carlsbad, the Poinsettia Fire burned 600 acres with an estimated $15-22 million in damage.  8 homes were destroyed, and 3 were damaged. Additionally, 1 apartment building was destroyed and another was considerably damaged, as well as 2 commercial buildings. A body was also found in the aftermath but the cause of death is unknown at this time.

As terrifying as it all was, we were reminded how little all the "stuff" we surround ourselves with matters. Nothing is as important as our family and we are beyond grateful that we are all safe and our beautiful community was largely spared thanks to the tireless efforts of our firefighters. 

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