With 6 people killed, 4 people missing, 884 homes consumed, 112,000+ acres burned (over 172 square miles), and more than $25 million spent on battling the fire with 70% of it still out of control, the Carr fire now ranks as the 6th worst fire in California history.
As a resident of Redding, the past several days have felt surreal. I have hardly strayed from home due to the hazardous air quality. To a minor extent, I’m lifting weights and jogging around the house, but to a major extent, I am checking the stats again and again as I try to get things done while being extremely distracted from keeping vigil.
Slowly I have unpacked some of our belongings as the prospect of the fire turning back to Redding appears less likely. Of note, one of the striking aspects of the “Carr Fire Scare” (my term), is that Jim and I both noticed how little we each counted as vitally important to save. When packing with the mindset that anything unpacked was going to be lost to the flames, we took our legal papers, our Bibles, jewelry, computers, top five or six favorite outfits, our most cherished pieces of art, and as many select books as I could fit into my car.
Our wedding picture on the wall? No, we didn’t choose that. Our stereo? No. Our dishes? No. Since the furniture would not fit, and the house itself and our pool were the biggest things we were saying goodbye to, hardly anything else seemed that important.
Granted, we would have been devastated had we lost our home, and we feel sick with grief over the many whose homes are gone. But stuff is still just stuff, and most of it is replaceable.
The stories that wrack us most are the lost lives. We keep praying for Ed Bledsoe who lost his wife and great grandkids, and also for the two fire fighters, Braden Varney (36) and Jeremy Stoke (37) who died heroically and the older person who burned (not sure if that person knew to evacuate or not).
It’s interesting that right now Redding is doubly shielded. It is shielded to the west by a thick line of containment built by the firefighters. That protective line serves as a dam that holds back a lake of fire that is 3x bigger than Redding. To the north Redding is shielded by the famous Shasta Dam that holds back a 370-mile-perimeter lake of mountain water that would flood the city of Redding were it not for that massive structure.
So Redding, in a sense, has a fire dam to the west and a water dam to the north. It’s ironic. We have all that water, yet all that fire still burns.
Father, thank You that the Carr fire is now 30% contained. We pray earnestly for the firefighters to prevail. God bless their families, their bodies, their mindsets. And, please for Ed Bledsoe to absorb your healing grace. We pray for all who are suffering, including those who are missing, and we pray for all the workers in the aftermath: insurance agents, local government workers, state officials, and the like, and especially for the grieved and bereaved. Please also for Your people, the Church, to be merciful and of generous assistance. Thank You for the two dams that are holding back the water and the fire. And thank You for Your fire (holy fire) that refines us and Your water (living water) that satisfies our spiritual thirst. In Jesus’ Name, Amen