We haven't been doing much other than keep track of the Butte fire and suffer in the smoke. The fire has grown to 101 square miles, has destroyed 81 homes and 50+ outbuildings. That is, that they know about. The assessment crew is still counting... After being contained 20%, then 10%, then 5% (holy crap), yesterday it was back to 10% and this morning they reported 20%. There is no estimated date for full containment. The fire is burning in chaparral and dry grass that is six feet high -- with a canopy of dry oak trees. It doesn't need wind to move, there is so much fuel from the drought that it moves all by itself, consuming everything in its wake and burning hot, hot, hot.
Thursday, on my way home from work, the smoke was a clearly outlined cloud.
By yesterday, it had settled into a ground hugging fog of grey. We spent the day wine tasting with the family of Kyle's girlfriend and then, in the evening, went to a fundraiser for a local equine therapy program. The fundraiser was outside, the program was perfect and the food tasty. But the smoke. Oh, my, the smoke. When we got home close to midnight, I felt like I used to when I was a college student and would come home after being at a disco (remember those?) with friends, reeking of smoke (I didn't smoke, but smoking was allowed everywhere then and smoke always hung over the dance floors). Last night I wore a black shirt and I kept finding bits of white ash on my shoulders and down the front. At first, I was confused, trying to figure what I was eating (and dropping) all over myself. Then it occurred to me that it wasn't crumbs, it was drifting ash. It probably wasn't the smartest, and certainly not the healthiest, thing to be at the fundraiser but the cause is one we believe in deeply. There were people there who had been evacuated and people there who had lost their homes. We were a close knit group last night; standing in solidarity.
We woke this morning with burning eyes and headaches. Morning chores were... a chore. The grey has gotten denser. I could hardly see the horses in their pastures.
We are meeting up with the wine tasting group for lunch at a winery in Amador today. Then, we are coming back home and staying inside for the rest of the day. We will only venture out to feed the animals.
Lucy and I are going to be horribly out of shape for our clinic in two weeks. But, there isn't anything I can do about that. There is no way I can ride her in this smoke. When the smoke clears, we'll get back to work.