Day to Day: Wildfires!

From left, Jan, Ron and Duke position themselves to take in the fire.

With all the wildfires in California, we thought we’d post our own little slice of life.

A small hillside fire broke out approximately two miles west of the Rincon-Vitova Insectaries (RVI) around 4:45pm on Tuesday, October 22, 2008. While the late day skeleton crew clicked away at computer monitors, Kyra and Gabe had left early and called in from the road. “You could see the fire from the [RVI] driveway,” Kyra explains. “It looked really close, but driving towards it we realized just how far it was.”

“It was the perspective. At first we thought we might have to evacuate,” said Gabe thinking back on the fire. “We joked about picking which DVDs to leave behind.”

The fire’s distance from the insectaries didn’t ease everyone’s mind. Duke lives nearby and was initially worried his house would be threatened, but it didn’t take long to notice the winds were blowing the opposite direction. “I did make a call to check, though” he said.

About five years ago, Duke’s neighborhood was evacuated during a hillside fire emergency. “…the authorities were pounding on the door and my girlfriend was trying to grab the cat and go. The cat, though, was not compliant.” So she grabbed a pillowcase, threw the cat in, and jumped into the car. “It’s kind of a funny story now,” Duke concludes.

When asked if he was worried about the fire’s proximity, Ron shook his head no. “I used to live at the base of that hill 6 years ago. Conditions in the area are ripe. It’s a reminder to be prepared. Fire is part of the ecology and learning to live with it and having contingency plans is essential.” Ron went on to describe priority boxes or even fire wells to store information below ground.

“It’s about what’s important. We’d shut down the server and grab the basic computer units. If we had more time we’d take the [insect] cages with all the mother cultures. We could take a few trays of [fly] pupae, but if we didn’t get back in three days we’d have a fly problem,” Ron laughs.

In the end, the fire burned approximately 5 acres, accrued no property damage and the unnamed hill stands with a black eye to the north. If there was any common thread felt here at the insectary, it was the realization of choice and priority. Insects may be small, but not everything can fit in a pillowcase.

For more info, check out the Ventura County Star article.

*Second Image: Kyra snapped this with her cell phone on the way home.

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