The slope below it burned, but our house is still intact.

The slope below our house burned, but the house is still intact.

First, thanks so much to all of you who have sent messages since my last post. While Claudia and I don’t have time to respond to them all individually right now, rest assured that we’ve read them all, and are very grateful for all the expressions of support. Your kindness is overwhelming, and greatly appreciated.

Please know that we’re fine, and our house is fine too. We were able to get into our neighborhood on Monday to assess our property, and the house and office are intact, with no damage that we can find. The fire burned almost to the edge of the house on the north side, and the edge of the deck on the west side, but didn’t reach the other sides, nor my office/studio building. We may have lost a few trees on our property, but the shade trees near our house and deck all seem okay.

Claudia took this video when we first returned to our house. Although the view will appear a bit charred at first, we look forward to seeing lots of wildflowers next spring.

We could see that fire crews used a bulldozer to create a fire break through part of our neighbor’s property, dug a small hand line around part of our house, and used our driveway as a fire break, guiding the fire away from our house and neighboring houses. We were also fortunate that the fire came through at 4:30 a.m., the coolest part of the day, and that it was moving downhill, rather than uphill, so it was a low-intensity fire at that point.

So we feel very, very lucky, and extremely grateful to the firefighters who worked through the night to save all the homes in our area. They did an amazing job under difficult circumstances.

Our neighbor, Marvin Silver, took this video on Monday. It starts with fire crews mopping up on our property, then pans up toward our house.

Unfortunately, others weren’t so lucky. The latest report this morning indicates that 49 homes have been lost in this fire, and that number is likely to rise. Losing your home is a devastating event in someone’s life, so if you’d like to help, here’s a link to the Mariposa Community Foundation, a local organization helping fire victims in our county.

We also observed first-hand what a wonderful job the volunteers at the Central California Animal Disaster Team (CCADT) did in caring for animals displaced by the fire, so I hope you’ll consider donating to them as well.

(These are legitimate non-profit organizations, but unfortunately there are scam artists out there, so be careful. Before you donate to a GoFundMe site for a specific fire victim, make sure it’s legitimate, and the money is actually going to the right person – and someone who is a real fire victim.)

The Oak Fire is up to over 18,000 acres now, but firefighters seem to be getting a better handle on it. It’s now 32% contained, and growth has slowed considerably. Let’s hope they continue to make good progress in containing the fire.

All of the fire’s growth the last two days has been on the northeast side, far from us, and away from the most populated areas, so some evacuation orders have been lifted. The evacuation order for our neighborhood was lifted yesterday afternoon, so we took our cats home, and we’ll probably go home tonight, even though the power is still out. We have a little work to do to get things back to normal, but honestly not much. We’re the lucky ones.

— Michael Frye

Related Post: Oak Fire

Michael Frye is a professional photographer specializing in landscapes and nature. He is the author or principal photographer of The Photographer’s Guide to Yosemite, Yosemite Meditations, Yosemite Meditations for Women, Yosemite Meditations for Adventurers, and Digital Landscape Photography: In the Footsteps of Ansel Adams and the Great Masters. He has also written three eBooks: Light & Land: Landscapes in the Digital Darkroom, Exposure for Outdoor Photography, and Landscapes in Lightroom: The Essential Step-by-Step Guide. Michael has written numerous magazine articles on the art and technique of photography, and his images have been published in over thirty countries around the world. Michael has lived either in or near Yosemite National Park since 1983, currently residing just outside the park in Mariposa, California.