Grace and peace to all who choose to read this, my first post.
Below is an adaptation of an email I sent out on July 27th, 2018 about the fire near Redding that is located just west of Interstate 5. The fire doubled in size on Tuesday and tripled in size last night. That’s why it qualifies as a national alert SOS.
This is to let you know that Jim and I are okay, even though our home is only 8.8 miles from the massive conflagration known as the Carr fire. Officials say this fire is extremely dangerous. It is defiant, self-directing, and growing ever-larger every day. I think of it metaphorically as a Chaldean-like raging inferno. (See Habakkuk, chapter 1, especially verse 6.)
The Carr fire has consumed over 80,000 acres. It is monstrous in the sense that its heat produces fire bombs that explode within the fire, making it treacherous for all, including firefighters, to get near it. Perhaps more terrifying are the tornado-like firenados animating the fire–yes, these are actual tornadoes made of twirling funnels of fire. When I saw footage of one of these spinning fiery whirlwinds, it looked like physical evidence of the “pillar of fire” that God used in Exodus 14:24 to hold back the Egyptians when the Israelites crossed the Red Sea.
Normally Redding’s sky is my favorite thing about Redding. But not today. Conditions here in Redding are apocalyptic. The sun is blood red, ash is floating in the air, and it is hot. 110 degrees plus the heat of the smoke.
It’s hard to describe how sinister the atmosphere now feels. The sky is otherwise muddy gray, but with swaths of clear blue, and a strange, voiceless yellowness that says that something is terribly wrong. It is hard not to stare at the panorama of evil smoke that visually dominates the view and boasts of more power than anything we have ever seen.
Three people so far have been killed and homes have been charred down to nothing.
Over 37,000 people have evacuated. The evacuees we are housing include 6 adults, 1 baby, and 3 dogs. In case we ourselves are asked to evacuate, we are mostly packed and ready to go. At any moment, the fire could turn against us. It moves itself simultaneously in 3-4 directions which causes its erratic, unpredictable behavior. Thus we too may have to leave, but leaving has its own peril since the looters are stealing from folks who have left their houses. These are sobering days.
Our neighbors have banded together. We are declaring we are one tribe and will look out for each other. Providentially our next door neighbor is a retired fire chief. He didn’t think the fire would jump the Sacramento River, but about 90 minutes after he said that, it did. Experts have underestimated the ravaging force of this fire from the get-go. It is not a normal fire.
Right now, Day 5, the fire is only 3% contained, even though throngs of firefighters (1700+) are here plus 80 soldiers from the National Guard and over 110 fire trucks along with aircraft and bulldozers.
We trust God, and we thank Him for all the workers here and for everybody’s prayers. God’s comfort excels all pain and devastation, so we pray for practical help and the comfort of God’s Spirit to be felt by those whose homes have been demolished and for the families of the firefighters and the firefighters themselves, two of whom have died in attempt to rescue others.
The Lord gives, and the Lord takes away. We are praying this fire produces in all us a greater, more accurate sense of the fear of the Lord. Paradoxically, the fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge (Proverbs 1:7). Oh, that all knowers would know that God is good.
As for me, I am praying especially for the firefighters and decision-makers. The pressure on them is enormous in these hours.
In Christ’s love,