1st anniversary of the firestorm

“Karl the Fog” sneaks over Taylor Mountain on 10/9/18

This week is the anniversary of the night the big fires in Sonoma and Napa County started (and I think some started Lake and maybe even Mendocino, but I could be wrong). Folks in the Bay Area in general have been pretty on-edge these last few days as we had hot, dry days with high winds (worse in the hills, ugh) coming from the North and Northeast – much like last year. Thankfully, those particular winds and the red flag warnings have ended.

Today KQED Radio’s “Forum” show was a live event in Santa Rosa with updates from officials from city, county, and state departments related to the fires, future altering about emergencies, coordination with other fire agencies, fire prevention, housing construction, and fire recovery in general. I am guessing that this is part 1 and this is part 2.

KQED news and the California Report have been doing some good reporting in the last year about how the fires started, the cleanup, and rebuilding. In our house, we are radio and web people- we don’t subscribe to the Press Democrat newspaper or watch TV news, so I don’t have a good sense of other coverage. Oh, this weekend there were updates about the red flag warning and the just-in-case stationing of fire trucks in the East Bay hills to prevent a disaster like the fires that happened in the past. I’ve also recently found a radio show (segment, realy) called the North Bay Report,  that has some coverage, although it’s mostly of other issues.

I’m glad that this anniversary is mostly behind us. Really glad.



Had a big windstorm earlier this week

Seeking plans for (12-foot) hoophouse made with EMT (electrical conduit = metal pipe)

Z has/had been trying to resurrect our little greenhouse from last year – the one that blew over end to end a few times in the first night of the North Bay Fires. Well, it was really windy whichever night that was this week (Monday?). Z woke me up and said there were high winds and that the greenhouse had blown over. I told him he was dreaming and to go back to sleep. He had opened the door and felt warm air swirling around from all directions. We’ve been having low-to-mid 30’s temperatures at night, which makes this unpredicted windstorm extra weird! Ok, extra-extra weird when you consider that not everyone got this windstorm- out of Z’s coworkers, only one, who lives like 8 miles away from us, had had it!

So we need to build a very wind-proof greenhouse. We have no time or energy, so this is a real challenge. I have been thinking it would be a hoophouse. Most of the plans that I see are for PVC, but we don’t think plastic pipes would be strong enough. Z is tempted to buy a poly pre-built greenhouse used online. I dunno about that…

Please donate to help test our greens!

This #GivingTuesday, help us get our community samples into the lab!

Please donate to UCCE Sonoma‘s “Citizen Science Projects” fund and write “Produce Safety” in the comments (see the dropdown).

Here’s that link again: https://donate.ucanr.edu/pages/uccesonoma

As the group says, “We collected hundreds of produce samples from across Sonoma County while fires were still blazing.

Once we get results from the lab, we’ll be able to give guidance to farmers and gardeners across the state on the impact of wildfires and air pollution on the food safety of produce.

*** This is community-initiated, community-driven science, with the support of your local UCCE Sonoma. It wouldn’t happen without you! ***

#SonomaStrong #CitizenScience #LocalFood


Today is the LAUNCH of our crowd-sourcing campaign! We need at least $500 in community donations to meet our matching grant funding from The Pollination Project, which combined will get us half-way to our $2000 goal to get all samples from one site into a lab for analysis!

Please donate to UCCE Sonoma‘s “Citizen Science Projects” fund and write “Produce Safety” in the comments.

Link: http://bit.ly/producesafetydonate


Please like our Facebook Page “Produce Safety After Urban Wildfire: Citizen Science Initiative” and share our #GivingTuesday posts!

Link: https://www.facebook.com/Producesafetyafterurbanwildfire/  ”


A week since the fires started

Well, it’s been a week since the #santarosafires started. A short, but long week. Most of the fires are yellow on the maps, but there’s a new fire that started as 2 separate fires this weekend, I think. It’s a ways away but we have been seeing weird smoke over Taylor Mountain – it’s from a few hills back. Hopefully the fires die back and those thousands of firefighters can go home. I heard today that it’s thought that some 50,000 people 100,000 people were evacuated because of these fires. And so many lost their homes. I wonder if parts of the previously-forested hillsides that were burned will somehow end up with housing on them. Extra housing was already desperately needed. I heard on the radio that some folks are not planning on rebuilding… It might take a while to sell those properties off.

We finally got our hands on a P100 gas mask (respirator) today.  I still have been having pain in my chest and headaches. I’m probably a bit more sensitive because I have a bit of asthma and multiple chemical sensitivity. Z can feel it, too, though. Unfortunately, we only bought one (to see if it would fit me- I had had my doubts, and it’s not great with my glasses, but we have it), and there weren’t any in a kids’ size. We finally bought a room air filter for the house, and the plastic smell of it is horrible! Z tried using it after he’d had the window open, and he found that it cleaned up the burnt smell right away, so that’s good.

I am starting to wonder if we should be eating the produce from the garden. There was so much oily stuff in the water I soaked the basil in today. Sure, basil has oils. And the kale water had oils, too, but I initially put the basil into the same bucket. Ashes definitely come off into the water. There were farmers markets today – we went to the Sebastopol Market. It was sad to say goodbye to one couple and to not see my friend’s farm whose stand my family shops at every week. They were evacuated early on Saturday and probably haven’t been let back in. I’ve heard of farms that were destroyed, including another farm from the Saturday market :(. So sad.

Bucket and seedling tray that have ash on them from the fires
Ashy bucket and tray


#SantaRosafires — Go Away!

Artichoke in bloom

Hi! It’s been a rough week, what with all the smoke and ashes in the air. We are about a mile east of the mountains that 2 fires are on the other side of – one spot is 3 miles to our south and east, and the other is I’m not sure how far, but to the north and east. Z hasn’t seen red at the top of the hills since Sunday night/Monday morning. I saw flames through the trees at midnight on Sunday night and looked on Calfire to find out what fire it was – I figured that it was in Lake County. At least one family from T’s preschool lost their home.

Garden update: I’ve still been picking some stuff out there- kale, strawberries, corn the other day, and some of the tomatoes. Oh, and melons that we haven’t gotten around to trying. Last weekend there was one that was delicious in one half and bitter in the other!

There’s a bit of ash on everything. I’m worried about my soil. The raccoons are digging up what little I planted (greens). I bought garlic seed on Sunday (maybe 8 hours before the 1st fire Santa Rosa fire started. Haven’t planted it yet! The zinnias and celosia are still lovely. Some of my newer marigolds blew over and/or got eaten by gophers. The wind on Sunday night was so strong. (I actually predicted the fires right around the time they started). The wind tossed my little greenhouse and scattered my seedlings all over the place. Some of the supports were broken. We’ll have to examine that situation in a few months – it’s the end of the season, pretty much. I’m so frustrated that I didn’t get my cover crops to germinate. I can plant again, but the way the soil is and the sprinklers are, it’s hard to germinate anything.

It’s not really safe to be out there, and I’ve been extra busy with a preschooler at home, errands to run, and twitter and facebook updates to share (I have a separate twitter account that I use for more personal and political stuff).

The wind isn’t as bad tonight as it was on Sunday night, and at least for the northern fire (Tubbs) it may be blowing in such a way that the fire will stop spreading. Please wish us luck!