Angel Fire: Julian, CA
September 15, 2007
Summary: While finishing up my shift at work, I noticed a large smoke plume out on the horizon in the direction of Julian. I quickly checked the CHP incident page to discover that a large wildfire, dubbed the Angel Fire, had just broke out on Farmers & Wynola Rd in Julian. Highway 78 on both sides of town was already being shut down. I took off from work and headed home to prepare for the inevitable evacuation orders. I had to take the 15 south, to I-8 east, to the 79 north to avoid the hard closures on my normal route. Made excellent time up the mountain before getting stuck behind some Cal Fire crews hauling bulldozers to the fire lines. As I crested the hill at Inspiration Point, it became rapidly apparent that Julian was in trouble. A huge wall of black smoke and orange flames lay just above the horizon and practically on top of Julian itself. I raced home and began to pack up all of our irreplacables. Word was out that Whispering Pines had been evacuated and that our neighborhood (Kentwood in the Pines) was next! When everything was ready to go, I grabbed the camera and walked up the hill behind the house. I took quite a few photos of the Angel Fire as it crossed highway 78 near Stevens Camp and headed into the northern end of Whispering Pines. The Angel Fire destroyed 1 home and 5 outbuildings, and then headed into the Banner Grade and up the southern flanks of Volcan Mountain. A mandatory evacuation order was eventually ordered for all of Julian, however the fire really began to settle down by sunset and the evacuation orders for Kentwood in the Pines were lifted. By nightfall, only a few flames were visible on Volcan and an eerie orange glow could be seen rising from the canyons behind Kentwood in the Pines. The next morning as I headed off to work, I stopped on Farmers Road to get a few pictures of the fire cresting Volcan Mountain. I was worried that it was going to take out the beautiful old growth forests on the summit ridge, but luckily the fire remained near the ground. It burned the undergrowth around the summit area for much of the day and the vast majority of the old oaks on Volcan appear to have come out of this ordeal unscathed. As I type this up, a trough of low pressure has moved through and the temperature has fallen into the low 50s! The humidity has risen from the single digits this morning to between 55 and 65 percent! The only bad thing is the winds have increased and are now gusting between 25 and 30 mph. There are still some flames on Volcan at this hour, but the fire's intensity is remaining fairly low. Here are the photos I took of the Angel Fire as it burned its way through the outskirts of town.
The Angel Fire produces a giant fire whirl near Whispering Pines in Julian. View from our street!
Cal Fire prepares to make a drop.
Wide angle (17 mm) view of the smoke plume from near our house.
Large flames appear near Whispering Pines as the fire advances towards the Banner Grade and Volcan Mountain.
Cal Fire drops retardant on the fire.
Another wide angle shot looking north towards the smoke plume.
Cal Fire launched an aggresive air attack on the fire and saved the town of Julian from total destruction.
More Air Attack!
Look closely... see the plane dropping below the ridgeline?
The Angel Fire continues to spread further down the Banner Grade.
The fire moves on, but large and dangerous hot spots remain.
This is looking northwest towards Julian High School. Behind that hill is where the Angel Fire ignited.
More black smoke plumes.
View north towards the Angel Fire.
Helicopters continue to drop water on the hot spots north of the Julian High School.
View east towards the crest of Kentwood in the Pines.
That night, the fire's intensity had weakened substantially, but the glowing flames still eerily shown through the trees.
Wide angle shot of the glowing fire under a starlit sky as seen from our neighbors house.
Photo of Volcan Mountain taken at 5:20 AM the following morning from Farmers Road. Even with the tripod, I still ended up with camera shake!
Another shot that suffered from camera shake. Tripod didn't do a very good job this morning!
Volcan Mountain this afternoon. Only a few hot spots remain.
The view north towards the unburned portions of Volcan Mountain.