None of us who lived through the fires will ever forget. The first fire in over 40 years to roar through Poway, and all of San Diego County, was in late October, 2003. I was just getting ready to move into my new house, and instead I evacuated my friends’ animals to it. My living room was filled with crates and birdcages, my corral with horses. And then the fire kept coming, and we had to move them all again.
The birds stayed in my car up in Rancho Bernardo for four days, where the air was safer for them to breathe. The horses ended up in a kind stranger’s back yard in north Poway. Many more horses ended up at the Del Mar Racetrack until their owners could claim them. If you’ve ever lived through a natural disaster–tornado, hurricane, fire, earthquake– you know how traumatic it can be.
The landscape and trails were decimated. Everything was covered in a thick coating of ashes for weeks. We rode out and discovered animals burned to a crisp, still in the pose they were in when the fire caught up with them…running. It is still hard to look at the photos.
Then it 2007 it happened again, this time coming in from the north and east. Thousands of homes burned. This time Rancho Bernardo and northern Poway got the worst of it. Several of my clients and friends lost their homes. Some of them lost their animals too.
|The cross says "For the animals, 2003 Cedar Fire"|
We all get a little leery of October now. We plan to stay in town. We clear the brush. We update our emergency kits and put air in the tires. Make sure the horses remember how to load in the trailer.
I occasionally walk a Kerry Blue Terrier near her home at the far east end of Garden Rd, an area that was burned in the 2003 fire. One day I ventured out of the neighborhood and onto the surrounding trails. I found a homemade memorial (above) to the animals that died in the 2003 fire. It is still there, and I find it very touching. I visit often while Wrigley and I walk. I want to remember.
One day I came out the front door with Wrigley, and there was a beautiful rainbow just across the street. I’m not especially religious, but I remember my bible studies. The rainbow was a sign of hope that God showed the survivors after it rained for 40 days and 40 nights. I like that.
© 2011 Terry Albert. All Rights Reserved.