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.
Wow, very scary, Carla and I have been thinking about you guys since we heard about the fire. I imagine it is great to be home. I appreciate your advice on how we can help the area recover.
Blessings to you both and to your community. Now comes the time of healing. May you continue to be safe and well. I live in the town of Sonoma and will never forget the night of the fire of 2017, moving horses and dogs and opening my home to a friend.
Please continue to take care.
😲 I am so happy for you! Those fire fighters were working hard! Take care.
So happy for your very good luck – that was really close! Will look forward to next year’s wildflowers. Blessings to all of you and everyone else affected.
Been holding our breath since your first posting! Thank goodness you have survived. Those firefighters are something and true heroes.
Thanks for the positive news
That fire was a little too close. Glad you, Claudia and the kitties are ok.
Wonderful news! I’m wondering if you could let us all know how you store your digital files and prints with the ever present threat of fire. I assume it’s not at your house! Your advice would be really helpful in these challenging times.
This is pretty scary. This is as close as it gets. So happy for you and your house. Take care.
Hi Michael and Claudia – I am really really glad that you are okay and your home is safe. This came too close to home this time. Please take care.
Hi Michael & Claudia,
Thank you for the update.
We’ve been thinking about you two and your situation since your last update. It was comforting to hear your voices in the video.
We hope the situation continues to improve.
Our thoughts are with you two
Don & Carmen
So glad you’re all safe and sound. Next spring, I hope to see video by Claudia retracing her steps and showing the wildflowers and other signs of rejuvenation.
Awesome you were spared, hugs to you both.
Too close for any comfort. Glad the fire spared your house. Thanks for the undates.
We are so glad to hear that you are able to return to your house safely. It sounded harrowing. What a narrow escape with the fire moving so close to your house. It looks like the firefighters were skilled at directing the fire as best they could- amazing.
I love that Claudia is checking on her bird friends already!
Michael I am so glad you and family are well. My cousins Saul looks like he did a good job. Blessings
Hi Michael and Claudia, that is great news about your house and property. During college I had a summer job with the National Park Service and went on several forest fires around Mt. Rainier and the Olympics in Washington state. It is interesting that the grass burned but few trees ignited near house. Looks like you had a well trained group of firefighters protecting your property. I still have my yellow fire shirt in our garage and it still smells like smoke. Regards, Dan Reed
Dear Michael and Claudia,
So pleased to read this report and thankful that you and your house are ok. The videos show what looked to be a very scary night. Thanks for the update and the info on helping others in the neighborhood.
Oh boy that brings back some very unpleasant memories. I’m so glad you’re both OK and that your home is standing. What a blessing.
I am so pleased to hear that you and Claudia are safe along with your cats. The fire fighters have done a great job saving your home. It must have been a very scary time for you and all your neighbours. Thank you for the updates when you must have so much else to sort, it is appreciated. Take care and continue to stay safe.
Just so relieved to hear that you and Claudia are safe and that your property has not been significantly affected. Best wishes, Paul
All the BEST to you & yours! Glad to hear everything is ok.
I am really glad to read that you are fine and that you did not lose your home!! Please keep inspiring us with your amazing photography. All the best to you and your family. Pascal
Oh my gosh! Thinking of you and your neighbors; thankful you are both ok and your home survived! All the best!
I’m very relieved to hear that your home is ok. That was too close for comfort.
We’ve been thinking about you guys! I’m so glad you both are safe and that your house made it through mostly unscathed. What an incredibly close call!
Thank you for keeping us posted on your safety.
So glad to see you and your home are safe.
I am very glad for your safe return. Hopefully, birds and other wildlife have escaped the fire within islands of unburned areas, such as around your home.
Michael and Claudia, thank you for keeping us posted and also for your suggestions about how to help. You were so fortunate, and I am so glad for you. And the quail! Sending out big gratitude for the fire crews and rescue groups.
So Glad they saved your place. Too Close for comfort! Hope all is well!
So glad you escaped the devastation! Thank you for the updates. Hopefully, the fire will be contained shortly.
Been thinking of you. So glad you are safe and your house made it.
Thanks for posting the updates and the links for legit funds for helping.
Thank you for the update, Michael. I’m so glad to hear you, Claudia, and your pets are doing well.
Thank you for sharing the updates, Michael. So glad that Claudia, you and your pets are safe, and your home survived. Looks like the worst may be over for the Oak Fire and they expect full containment by next week.
I’m so happy to see you’re all ok – and the quail too! It was a scary few days.
I am so glad I discovered your blog and the Oak Fire update. It is wonderful to hear your house and studio survived the fire. You may not remember me but I sold this property to you and Claudia back in 2004. I have great memories from when my husband and I lived there. I couldn’t stand the thought that it might be gone. The firefighters did a terrific job in saving the house. They also managed to save my sister-in-law’s house on Morningstar Lane. Take care.
Of course I remember Geri! It’s nice to hear from you. The firefighters did indeed do a great job with our house, and all the houses in this neighborhood. I thought about your sister-in-law’s house too, since the fire went through that area. I’m glad her house is okay. Unfortunately, many other people lost their homes, which is very sad. And it’s sobering to see places where nothing is left except perhaps a chimney, or a burned-out vehicle, less than half a mile from our house. We were lucky.