Surviving the Kincade Fire, Halloween, 2019
The Kincade Fire started a week ago in the ridges just north of our
town near the Geysers Geo Thermal Plant. It has happened before.
For some reason CalPine, a twice bankrupt company full of con
artists in my opinion, well, look it up; Calpine refuses to have a fire
station at their site.
The Pacific Gas & Electric power line from the plant failed at 9:20 PM
and the disaster began.
For a few days we thought CalFire had it under control, but
Saturday/Sunday night came the huge windstorm from the
Northeast blowing the fire straight towards our town. 70-90 mph
winds in the hills. At least 50 mph in our town.
PG & E panicked and shut off all the power and gas at about 8 PM
Saturday night in our town. The government panicked and ordered
everyone out of our town by 4 PM Saturday.
Folks were packing up their cars all afternoon on a beautiful calm
fall day with sunshine and about 75F.
I mowed the yard and watched them all leave our neighborhood. A
park ranger came up to me as I was mowing and asked me,
“Did you get the mandatory evacuation order?”
“Are you staying?”
“What is your address?”
I gave him our address. He wrote it on his little notepad and walked
away. I figured he was in charge of deciding where to send the
cadaver dogs after the fire passed through town.
The people fled our town. And it got quiet about sunset.
We packed our bug out bags and waited. I brought in the battery
powered radio/boom box anticipating the end of the power. We had
a nice dinner and watched TV until the power went off at 8 PM.
We went to bed. It was calm. We kept the lights off. We knew now
that we were prisoners in our own home. We’d rebelled against the
orders of the state.
At about 3 AM the wind came up big time. It suddenly started
blowing at about 50 mph from all directions. The fallen leaves were
scattering and chattering on the street.
It was spooky in the dark. It was a new moon, too. But there was
light to the west coming from the generators three blocks away at
the police station.
I sat by the radio listening to the news about the fire’s progress. It
was heading towards our town. I could see an orange glow to the NE.
I woke up my wife and we got dressed. It was 3:30 AM when the
county sheriff’s cars came down all the streets with their high low
sirens, who-AWW, whoo-AWW! “You must evacuate now!”
It was scary. But the radio told us that the fire was headed south
now down Hwy 128 and our town was spared.
We went back to bed at 6 AM.
And thus began our five day vacation from civilization.
We woke up on Sunday morning at about 9:30 AM and it was
another beautiful day. We relaxed. I heated up water for tea and
coffee on our Coleman camp grill. You have to have one of these to
survive. You need a way to heat food and water off grid.
We discovered that the idiots at PG & E had cut off the natural gas
Now we had no heat in the house, and the house slowly got colder
and colder over the next few days. We slept in warm clothes with
stocking caps on our heads under heavy blankets.
Sunday was Air Show Day. All was well until about noon. A fire
started up just a few miles southeast of us near Hwy 101. Smoke
and ash came over the house and the sun went orange.
We’ve never seen so many airplanes come over our house. Even a
Boeing 747 tanker came over to drop retardant on the fire. CalFire
could NOT let this fire cross Hwy 101 just south of town.
The fire was stopped within a couple of hours. Again, the battery
powered radio told us the story.
After that we were never in any real fire danger. Though some
moronic meteorologist predicted another high wind even on
Tuesday night WHICH NEVER ARRIVED!
And we had our power restored on Tuesday night at 7 PM. The town
was still deserted. It was nice. Tuesday had been a rough day. Our
nerves were a bit shot by then.
And then Wednesday at 2:20 PM the Sheriff decided that the natives
could return to our town.
So, what was it like to be without electricity and gas and neighbors
and hiding from the police from Saturday to Wednesday?
You’d have to experience it yourselves to know.
It was quiet. The sun becomes your master. Hiding is nerve-racking.
Crows take over the streets. Cops come by twice in the morning and
twice at sunset.
The radio and the stove and of course food and water are key to
And you better have a good partner that you love and trust.
The few hours of warm sunshine on the back patio was the highlight
of our days. No one could see us there.
I wouldn’t trade those hours for anything.