Monday, June 15, 2015

There's a fire in the neighborhood

Photo by Stefan Hinman//Matanuska-Susitna Borough​
The #sockeyefire near Willow, Alaska, the evening of 6/14/15.



UPDATE: A little scare last night  6/16 when lightening set off a couple of fires much closer to the East Pole. Washington state Hotshot team had them controlled by morning.  Still waiting and watching but the big fire hasn't grown much in the past two days.

There's a fire going on out there. It grew to 6,500 acres in a single day and still burning hotly the second day. As many as 50 structures have burned and more than 200 people evacuated.  It is near the roadside settlement of Willow, 70 miles from Anchorage by road, and is in an area with a large number of dog mushers. As matter of fact, Vern Halter, a musher in the area and a borough assemblyman, told a press conference volunteers had moved between 400 and 500 sled dogs away from the path of the fire in a short period of time the first day.

There are a lot of people with very serious problems. Mine is very minor compared with them but this fire could threaten the cabin at the East Pole. For now I am going through a thought process here. That fire started well south of the pole, pushed by a northerly wind, but apparently the wind shifted to come more from the south which aims it right at my cabin. Parks Highway, the major route between Anchorage and Fairbanks, now closed at Mile 87. Crow flies, that's about 30 plus miles from the cabin. Yesterday the fire was burning at about half a mile per hour. Mentally now going through packing for a quick trip in there to get what I can. Trailer is hooked up and the four-wheeler and that trailer loaded aboard. Chain saw fueled and ready (to get past downed trees) Other than that and a rifle I think all I need is basic trail gear, tools, survival stuff in small backpack and hit it.

In my favor is that fire will have to jump a power line right-of-way that is about 100 feet wide. Also from the direction it is coming it would have to burn downhill to get the cabin, but not so parts of the trail. If I can get past the highway closure I can be in and out in about 3 hours. If I get caught I can probably make it to the Talkeetna River. Also going through an inventory of what's there that I really need and it's mostly things I really WANT, which is different. Most of my stuff that I would want is photos, some books, memories, that kind of stuff. Can only think of one thing I really need. So I will watch the fire and keep weighing things against each other, but in the meantime will be packed and ready so I can just jump in the Jeep and go.

About all I really need is that 16-pound solid steel Sotz wedge splitting maul that can't be replaced. Of course it is the one thing most likely to survive a fire.

A major contributing factor is that we have been hot, dry and windy for the past week with at least another week of it coming. To give a little perspective, Alaska is about 2/3 the size of the Lower 48 states combined.  About 2/3 of that area is under a fire watch now, more than 300,000 square miles. Meanwhile, I watch every source of information to check the progress of the fire in case I have to take off in a hurry. Updated Tuesday morning, the forecast predicted northeast winds  Tuesday and Wednesday turning easterly Thursday with some clouds showing up. That saves the East Pole for now, but not so good for the folks in Willow. Thinking I will save this list I made of what I wanted to rescue and bring that stuff back next time I go out there.

Just a thought watching the fire. There isn't much I can do from here without being in the way. But, I am sure proud to be an Alaskan today watching how people are helping people.

I have been posting information about the fire all day on Facebook, maps, warnings, updates and not going to repeat them here, but this is a link to my page which is open to the public.

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Interesting quotations

My dear Mr. Frost: two roads never diverge in a yellow wood. Three roads meet there. — @Shakespeare on Twitter

"The mark of a great shiphandler is never getting into situations that require great shiphandling," Adm. Ernest King, USN

Me: Does the restaurant have cute waitresses?

My friend Gail: All waitresses are cute when you're hungry.

I'm not a writer, but sometimes I push around words to see what happens. – Scott Berry

“The rivers of Alaska are strewn with the bones of men who made but one mistake” - Fred McGarry, a Nushagak Trapper

A non-writing writer is a monster courting insanity. – Franz Kafka

We are all immortal until the one day we are not. – me again

If the muse is late, start without her – Peter S. Beagle

Substitute ‘damn’ every time you’re inclined to write ‘very;’ your editor will delete it and the writing will be just as it should be. ~Mark Twain Actually you could do the same thing with the word "really" as in "really cold."

If you are looking for an experience that will temper your vanity, this is it. There's no one to impress when you're alone on the trap line. – Michael Carey quoting his father's journal

Either write something worth reading or do something worth writing. – Benjamin Franklin

It’s nervous work. The state you need to write in is the state that others are paying large sums of money to get rid of. – Shirley Hazzard

So far as I can remember, there is not one word in the Gospels in praise of intelligence -- Bertrand Russell

You know that I always just wanted to have a small ship to take stuff from a place that had a lot of that stuff to a place that did not have a lot of that stuff and so prosper.—Jackie Faber, “The Wake of the Lorelei Lee”

If you attack the arguer instead of the argument, you lose both

If an insurance company won’t pay for damages caused by an “act of God,” shouldn’t it then have to prove the existence of God? – I said that

I used to think getting old was about vanity—but actually it’s about losing people you love. Getting wrinkles is trivial. – Eugene O’Neill

German General to Swiss General: “You have only 500,000 men in your army; what would you do if I invaded with 1 million men?”

Swiss General: “Well, I suppose every one of my soldiers would need to fire twice.”

Writing is the only thing that when I do it, I don’t feel I should be doing something else.—Gloria Steinem

Exceed your bandwidth—sign on the wall of the maintenance shop at the West Coast/Alaska Tsunami Warning Center

One thing I do know, if you keep at it, you usually wind up getting something done.—Patricia Monaghan

Do you want to know what kind of person makes the best reporter? I’ll tell you. A borderline sociopath. Someone smart, inquisitive, stubborn, disorganized, chaotic, and in a perpetual state of simmering rage at the failings of the world.—Brett Arends

It is a very simple mind that only knows how to spell a word one way.—Andrew Jackson

3:30 is too late or too early to do anything—Rene Descartes

Everything is okay when it’s 50-below as long as everything is okay. – an Alaskan in Tom Walker’s “The Seventymile Kid”

You can have your own opinion but you can’t have your own science.—commenter arguing on a story about polar bears and global warming

He looks at three ex wives as a good start—TV police drama

Talkeetna: A friendly little drinking town with a climbing problem.—a handmade bumper sticker

“You’re either into the wall or into the show”—Marco Andretti on giving it all to qualify last at the 2011 Indy 500

Makeup is not for the faint of heart—the makeup guerrilla

“I’m going to relax in a very adult manner.”—Danica Patrick after sweating it out and qualifying half an hour before Andretti

“Asking Congress to come back is like asking a mugger to come back because he forgot your wallet.”—a roundtable participant on Fox of all places

As Republicans go further back in the conception process to define when life actually begins, I am beginning to think the eventual definition will be life begins in the beer I was drinking when I met her.—me again

Hunting is a “critical element for the long-term conservation of wood bison.”—a state department of Fish and Game official explaining why the state would not go along with a federal plan to reintroduce wood bison in Alaska because the agreement did not specifically allow hunting

Each day do something that won’t compute – anon

I can’t belive I still have to protest this shit – a sign carriend by an elderly woman at an Occupy demonstration

Many people hear voices when no one is there. Some of them are called mad and are shut up in rooms where they stared at walls all day. Others are called writers and they do pretty much the same thing. – Meg Chittenden

Life should be a little nuts or else it’s just a bunch of Thursdays strung together—Kevin Costner as Beau Burroughs in “Rumor has it”

You’re just a wanker whipping up fear —Irish President Michael D. Higgins to a tea party radio announcer

Being president doesn’t change who you are; it reveals who you are—Michelle Obama

Things sports announcers say

"… there's a fearlessment about him …"

"He's got to have the lead if he's going to win this race."

"Kansas has always had the ability to score with the basketball."

"NFL to put computer chips in balls." Oh, that's gotta hurt.

"Now that you're in the finals you have to run the race that's going to get you on the podium."

"It's very important for both sides that they stay on their feet."

This is why you get to hate sportscasters. Kansas beats Texas for the first time since 1938. So the pundits open their segment with the question "let's talk about what went wrong." Wrong? Kansas WON a football game! That's what went RIGHT!

"I brought out the thermostat to show you how cold it is here." Points to a thermometer reading zero in Minneapolis.

"It's tough to win on the road when you turn the ball over." Oh, really? Like you can do all right if you turn the ball over playing at home?

Cliches so imbedded in sportscasters' minds they can't help themselves: "Minnesota fell from the ranks of the undefeated today." What ranks? They were the only undefeated team left.

A good one: A 5'10" player went up and caught a pass off a defensive back over six feet tall. The quote? "He's got some hops."

Best homonym of the day so far: "It's all tied. Alabama 34, Kentucky 3." Oh, Tide.

"Steve Hooker commentates on his Olympic pole vault gold medal." When "comments" just won't do.

"He's certainly capable of the top ten, maybe even higher than that."

"Atlanta is capable of doing what they're doing."

"Biyombo, one of seven kids from the Republic of Congo." In the NBA? In America? In his whole country?

"You can't come out and be aggressive but you can't come out and be unaggressive."

"They're gonna be in every game they play!"

"First you have to get two strikes on the hitter before you get the strikeout."

"The game ended in the final seconds." You have to wonder when the others ended or are they still going on?

How is a team down by one touchdown before the half "totally demoralized?"

"If they score runs they will win."

"I think the matchup is what it is"

After a play a Houston defender was on his knees, his head on the ground and his hand underneath him appeared to clutch a very sensitive part of the male anatomy. He rolled onto his back and quickly removed his hand. (Remember the old Cosby routine "you cannot touch certain parts of your body?") Finally they helped the guy to the sideline and then the replay was shown. In it the guy clearly took a hard knee between his thighs. As this was being shown, one of the announcers says, "It looks like he hurt his shoulder." The other agrees and then they both talk about how serious a shoulder injury can be. Were we watching the same game?

"Somebody is going to be the quarterback or we're going to see a new quarterback."

"If you're gonna play running back in the SEC you're gonna take hits."

"That was a playmaker making a play."

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