A distant conical haze marred the sky as we headed home on a clear Thursday evening. We turned on the radio, listening for a possible report of a fire. Our concern about the effect on traffic vanished when we heard the news.
Blocks of homes in San Bruno were burning. Maybe an airplane had crashed. No, SFO responded that there were no planes missing.
Perhaps a gas station blew up, but someone said there weren't any gas stations in the hills above San Bruno. The latter statement, too, proved false; a gas station next to the Lunardi's market did exist, but the gas station was undamaged and not the cause of the fire.
A horrific and smaller-scale echo of the events, rumors, and speculation of nearly nine years ago, we were glued to the TV for information. The youngster's friend, Harry, lives on Trenton Drive. Harry's family evacuated their house, but luckily they live about three-quarters of a mile from the fire and their home was undamaged.
The fuel source turned out to be a natural-gas pipeline, and in the days and months to come more questions will be answered. [Update - 9/12/10: four people are confirmed dead, and five are missing. The City of San Bruno has listed 37 homes destroyed.]
Meanwhile, the San Bruno fire prompted a much-needed discussion in our household about bug-out emergencies. We are semi-prepared for a major earthquake, in that we can live for a week on supplies that we have stored securely. The advice for earthquake survivors, however, is to stay put.
If there were a fire, tidal wave, or other disaster that allowed us only a few minutes to pack and leave, would we know what to throw in the car? Should we stay together or take all our cars? No answer is perfect, but this is one case where any decision is much better than inaction. May you, dear reader, never experience a bug-out situation, but please spend a few minutes thinking about what you are going to do. Your life may depend on it.