Wednesday, May 06, 2009

How Quickly Things Changed

On a warm Wednesday afternoon my daughter, whose school was closed due to the fire, and I decided to go downtown and catch a movie.

As we headed down Carrillo hill from the Mesa we could see scattered ribbons of smoke rising up from the foothills and reaching lazily towards the sky. It was a clear day and the Jesusita fire looked to be under control.

I was thinking to myself, this thing is going to be like the Swine Flu; much less worse than feared.

About two-thirds of the way through watching "The Soloist," the movie stopped. Power had gone out in the theater. When the back-up lights came on, the projectionist announced that we could wait to see if the power would come back on, or we could get a return ticket at the box office to use later. We chose the latter option.

Once outside I could immediately smell the smoke and feel the stifling heat. The sky that had been so clear just a little more than an hour earlier now had an orange pallor to it.

Smoke from Jesusita Fire darkens sun. Taken in 900 block of State Street around 4 pm Wednesday.

We headed over to the Center Stage Theater on the second level of Paseo Nuevo Mall to get a better look at what was going on in the foothills.

Despite how hot it was outside, what I saw made me shiver. Dark thick smoke was pouring from behind the Riviera and was blowing over downtown.

We headed over to the Lobero parking garage to get a better look.

After snapping some pictures we decided to head back to the car.

Power was out and every business on State Street appeared to be closed as were the shops in Paseo Nuevo.

I had parked my car near the corner of Castillo and De la Guerra. Cars on Castillo looked to be back up past Canon Perdido.

Traffic was a slow crawl as we headed south on Castillo. When we reached the 101 undercrossing I could see that traffic on the freeway was jammed in both directions. It was as if everybody was trying to get out of Santa Barbara at the same time.

Once we got to Cliff Drive traffic had lightened up. We continued on around the back side of the Mesa over Skyline Circle and over to Hilda Ray Park to get a view of fire. There was a good size crowd there.

You could see flames behind the old St. Anthony's Seminary with your naked eye.

We stayed and snapped a few photos, then headed home. As we did so, I thought to myself, we don't have a fire season here, we have a fire decade.
© 2009 by Craig Smith and