I don't usually turn on my phone as soon as it's permitted upon landing. I usually don't need to.
This time, after a flight over the Canadian Rockies, which were absolutely lovely and, from the air, very different from the southern Rockies where I live,
I did turn on my phone as soon as I could. It beeped at me that I had a message. My daughter had called fifteen minutes earlier to let me know that the friends who have been evacuated to our house have lost their home and barn: and, of course, everything else that was there.
Hope and smart building have not, in this case, been sufficient.
We do still hope that the one cat who remained in the house is okay. It's possible, because of how well the house was built, that she found shelter in the basement. The humane society has not found evidence that she didn't. On that hangs one more thread of possibility and optimism.
There's nothing to do or say beyond that right now.
Except to observe that I am learning more things about wildfire.
For instance, there is something called the Haines Index, which is a meteorological assessment used to analyze the potential behavior of wildfires. Quoting the Forest Service website about this tool, "The Haines Index can range between 2 and 6. The drier and more unstable the lower atmosphere is, the higher the index." Also, "This index has been shown to be correlated with large fire growth. . . ." The number 6, the highest level, indicates "High Potential (Dry Unstable Lower Atmosphere)."
The Haines Index for the area of the High Park Fire, the one near home, is at 6.
I have also learned about some new equipment being brought in to help the firefighters battling this monster. From the Inciweb site: "A (Radiometric Airborne Mapping System) RAMS unit was ordered and arrived Saturday afternoon. The radiometric imaging system, attached to the bottom of a helicopter, will provide infrared information similar to what officials have been using, with some key differences. The advantage of the RAMS unit is that it can be used during the daytime, and it can provide real time GPS coordinates for areas of identified heat. In addition it can provide information about the heat source (open flame, smoldering, buried, or diminishing heat). This information will help firefighters determine where suppression efforts should be focused."
So far, the night-time infrared flyovers have been providing some of the most useful insight into the fire's behavior. Information of that type, and of more precision, available during the daytime has got to be beneficial.