Watching “Matilda the Musical” with many parents, friends and grandparents “in the round” at the Topanga Community Center; we reached intermission and everyone moved outside to stretch their legs and get a snack of chocolate cake. At 3:35 the young actress playing Matilda came up to her mother seated in front of me with an earnest look on her face: “Mommy there’s a fire.”*
A few minutes later, Kristy Beauvais, the show’s producer/director informed the crowd that we were indeed needing to evacuate because a vegetation fire had broken out just blocks south of the Community Center.
As we heard the boulevard was closed preventing us from returning home south of the fire we remained at TCC and watched the incredible parade of water-dropping helicopters douse the blooming smoke plumes; eventually we witnessed the majestic swoops of the fixed wing Quebec 1 and Quebec 2 brought in almost immediately from Van Nuys Airport. The wind was quite light, quelling fears of immediate spread, so it almost felt better watching from there than being “in the dark” so to speak, at home.
The boulevard was now empty and as we knew the people who owned the house on the next ridge closer to the fire we drove the next street over and watched with the owners and others as the fire fighters continued to battle the blaze that seemed destined to give in to the sustained firefighting efforts. We watched in awe as we saw dozens of “fire-breakers”, dark-suited and orange-suited moving up to the ridge above the flames. We saw them gather then spill out and shave the hilltop of brush with their chainsaws. We saw them move as groups to where we guessed were emerging hot-spots.
The sky was full of helicopters and fixed wings each carrying their water loads picked up from either 69 Bravo over the ridge or from the Pacific.
To get back to home in Fernwood, we needed to drive home via Mulholland and Old Topanga Canyon. I saw that not only “Matilda the Musical” had been disrupted but evidently also a wedding party at The 1909. I imagined I saw a distressed mother of the bride running from one place to another with the news that the boulevard was closed preventing guests from arriving or wondering if they should evacuate.
Yes, fire season in Southern California pays no heed to earthly schedules, it continues to create havoc and frayed nerves. But once again, with the help of our crack firefighting units and a growing wealth of knowledge of how to be aware and be prepared even in the smallest of fire circumstances, we continue to be okay.
*Source of the fire is unknown but as of the time of this writing, TCEP.org reports that there is 80% containment. Fire crews will remain on site.