Southern California is hot today. Warner Springs wildfires are becoming a reality.

Temperatures are running high, humidity is low, and desert winds are gusting. These are conditions that can support wildfires of huge proportions.

warner springs wildfires
Warner Springs 2002 Fire

In 2002, my parents (recent transplants from Houston, TX) were living peacefully in their newer home that backed up to Warner Springs Ranch. It was a lovely retirement and the dry air agreed with my Dad’s lung problems.

Late summer of 2002 was hot, dry and windy. Firestorms were burning strongly in eastern San Diego County. We had spent the weekend with them at Warner Springs Ranch, and noticed smoke pluming over the distant hilltops. We stepped outside and noticed smell of burning wood and brush beginning to waft down into the valley below.

Feeling adventurous, my Dad and I hopped into the car and drove up the primitive road that might afford us a better view of what was burning beyond.

It was a sight to behold.

The mountains beyond looked like they were topped with hot-burning coals, and the cloud of smoke above dwarfed the mountians below–and seemed to be inching toward the nearby Los Coyotes Indian Reservation.

We were both concerned, and headed back home where ongoing coverage of the wildfires were being reported by local television stations. We also called Warner Springs Ranch for updates every few hours.

Late Sunday evening, our family headed back home to the La Costa area of Carlsbad, CA–and continued to follow news reports. We had invited my parents to join us, but they declined–saying they preferred to stay put.

The next day, we received a call from my folks. A local Sheriff had knocked on their door and told them they had to evacuate within the hour.

And within two hours, they were on our doorstep with simple baggage, bags of fresh fruit and vegetables, and their squawking parrot. It was an adventure never expected by these two seasoned and hardy souls.

Fortunately, the fires never reached Warner Springs or the historic Warner Springs Ranch and Bob and Edith Michelson were able to return home a couple of days later.

But the experience, memory and awesome sights still serve to remind us of the power of natural forces such as fires, hurricanes, tornadoes, tsunamis and earthquakes.

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