So, I know its been a hot minute since my last post and I totally had a different blog idea for this time around, but some things happen unexpectedly and this was too crazy to not share. Over this past weekend, I was out celebrating my sorority sister’s birthday in San Diego. We ended up renting this cute Airbnb with a bunch of friends in the downtown Gaslamp Quarter of S.D. We all made our way to Pacific Beach and hung out at some of the local rooftop bars, such as El Prez and Mavericks.
While I was out and about having drinks with friends, I had two missed facetime calls from my mom. She eventually facetimed my boyfriend Andrew and when he answered, my mom had her phone camera facing the canyon in our backyard and all you could see was SMOKE! I immediately jumped on the phone and my mom was freaking out telling us that a wildfire had started in the canyon. To give you a better mental image, our backyard backs up against a huge canyon, called Wood Canyon. It’s absolutely beautiful, but this canyon has perfect fire hazard conditions. There is a ton of dry brush and this day happened to be one of the first hot days we’ve had in a while… also the wind that day wasn’t helping at all.
At this moment I was a little concerned but saw that the firefighters responded very quickly and were already strategizing to put out the fire. There were helicopters dropping fire retardant and water to contain the blaze. I was wanting to head home, but there was no possible way I could drive with alcohol in my system and all access points to my neighborhood were blocked off anyway. I had to rely on my family sending picture and video updates. I tried to not think too much about it and not damper the mood of the birthday celebration we were having. I definitely put on a happy face to not take away any attention from the birthday girl… I was fine until an hour or two passed by and I had a ton of friends and neighbors texting me if my home and family was okay.
After receiving those texts and phone calls from friends, I tried getting ahold of my family members and no one was answering so it started to freak me out. The worst thing I could’ve done is check the news and sure enough, they were saying that the fire was rapidly spreading, and home and structures were threatened. There was 0% containment at this point. After an hour of not hearing from my family, I finally got a phone call from my mom and she said, “an officer came to our door, we have to evacuate now. What few things do you need me to grab from your room.” At that moment, I realized there was nothing of real value to me other than my family and animals being safe. I told her to grab my laptop, pillow I had from when I was a baby, and the dress that I’m wearing to an upcoming wedding.
Once I got off the phone with her, I left everyone at the bar and ran into the restroom so I could give myself a minute or two to cry out all of my worries. I knew everyone was going to be safe, but it still made me sad to think that the home I’ve had all my memories in, could be gone forever and there was nothing I could do about it. Once I let it all out, I pulled myself together and continued on with the birthday celebration. I felt guilty being down in San Diego partying, but my mom reassured me that everything would be okay and to enjoy my time down there because they had everything handled at home.
Long story short, after hours of the firefighters battling the fires, the evacuations were lifted and my family was able to return home. We are currently on day six of the fire and as of now, it is contained. I’m so beyond thankful and have a whole new respect for the men and women who saved the homes of many. I’ve always had a huge respect for our first responders, but until something happens to you personally then it completely changes your perspective and makes you even that much more grateful.
Facts about the Aliso Viejo Fire:
-Burned 175 acres
-No buildings were lost in the fire
-About 3,500 residents in Laguna Beach and Aliso Viejo were evacuated
-More than 500 personnel were working the Aliso Fire Department
-Three firefighters sustained non-life-threatening injuries
-Cause of the fire is still under investigation