Under a blood red flag warning

Worried in San Marcos

5/14/14, 3 p.m.

The view from San Marcos is not encouraging. It doesn't feel good either. I'm in the unincorporated area, just off Deer Springs Road, right around the bend where it becomes Twin Oaks Valley Road. The sky around me is filling with audible but invisible helicopters and smoke. The worst is a ways off yet, but it's impossible to ignore.

The blackest plume is to the north. Probably Bonsall. Evacuations were ordered there a few minutes ago. I don't have cable or a land line, so I've got the U-T TV live stream going and am hitting refresh on the San Diego County Emergency website. And keeping my fingers crossed.

Earlier, just after noon, when I was going to the recycle yard on Las Posas, I had the bizarre sensation of seeing double — smoke from the hills to left and smoke from the hills to the right, on either side of the 78 freeway. I had a whole truckload of recyclables and it took me close to an hour to sort through the greens and browns and clears and good to know that you can't get any money from an empty whiskey bottle.

A crazy man was there who kept repeating the phrase, “Are you going to go back to your life?” And the word life was weirdly emphasized and enunciated: “LIE - EEF!” First softly muttered and then growled with disgust. I heard the young employee there say something like, “Hey, Richard,” but I couldn't tell what the response was.

From there in the parking lot I could see three columns of smoke. I didn't know which one to stare at. A horrible wind, drying out my lips and mouth and blowing up bits of dirt into my eyes. A violent image of Richard gouging me with a broken bottle, screaming about the end of days.

The thick manager who didn't do anything but check his phone the entire time I was at the recycling center said the county is going to hell in a handbasket. But he looks like the type who might think that even if there weren't a thousand acres blazing.

I waited in a drive-thru for a cheeseburger and something cold to drink, scanning the horizon and listening to callers on KOGO. It was at least 100 degrees. I went home and was relieved to find I still had electricity. This would be intolerable without electricity. I ate my food and drank my drink and when my mother called I assured her I would be safe. I will be safe.

The audio for this U-T TV live stream is strange and unsettling. Sizzling, hissing, birds chirping, a siren, choppers buzzing, muffled laughter from the firefighters, silence, suddenly a man giving out an email address, someone asking when the press conference will begin. More choppers chopping, more murmurs, more birdsong.

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Hope you are still safe. Pointsettia fire has burned at least 30 homes in Carlsbad. Cal State San Marcos area and Twin Oaks, Camp Pendleton, still watching the news where several more fires, some out of control. Bet this day turns out to be worst fire mess in our San Diego history yet. So outrageous and scary sad.

Even harder to accept is that there is a serious lack of equipment necessary to put fire out. The shortsighted City (Hall) has let us burn.

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