November 04, 2003

Stripped Ranch

One can still smell soot and ash in Scripps Ranch.

I had to take my car out to the shop on Miramar Road here in San Diego, near where the fire destroyed so many homes in Scripps Ranch. Mechanic had to order a part, so I had to wait an hour. So I drove over to Pomerado Road, which cuts through the heart of Scripps Ranch.

The first thing you notice about Scripps Ranch is the eucalyptus trees. They're everywhere -- groves of them. It's what defines the area.

Now they're dead. And the ground is black, deep black, as far as you can see. Roads coming off Pomerado Road, up into neighborhoods, have police checkpoints (only residents can enter). In many places as I continued heading east on Pomerado, the fire had jumped the road, and scorched to blackness the hills on the left, sometimes climbing up to the neighborhoods and approaching the homes there. Every now and then I saw home, home, home, chimney, home, home, chimney, where the only thing standing where a home once was, was a chimney.

Blackness and destruction everywhere. Acres and acres of soot and char, rolling hills of blackness with dead trees. Yet, many houses and apartments and condos were spared, but these communities are surrounded by blackness on all sides. Look out the window from one of these homes and all you're bound to see is the fire's aftermath in every direction.

I saw a sign alongside Pomerado. It said "Welcome to Scripps Ranch." The sign, wooden, was intact, but the post holding up the sign was so blackened and charred, it appeared that the slightest wind would break it in two.

Strangely, the most dramatic thing I saw was not the chimneys where homes once stood (probably been oversaturated with that image from the media) but rather 50-foot, maybe 100-foot stretches of guard rail along Pomerado road, gently twisted and laying unnaturally on the ground. I was something you just don't see. At first I thought, huh? Guard rail melted? No. The guard rail was fine. Just laying on the ground, because all of the wooden posts that a guard rail is connected to had burnt to a crisp and no longer existed.

So the weight caused long stretches of guard rail to simply sag all the way to the ground. Posted by brian at November 4, 2003 07:57 AM

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