USA – Thick smoke covers the air; ash falls from the sky. Orange flames are flickering through buildings, forests, everything around. An eerie orange glow covers the sky. The day is turned into night, with a film of ash covering every surface. The evacuation had begun.
“We have to go there’s a fire!” a shout was heard throughout the house.
Kendall Grinker, a sophomore at Carlmont High School, was doing homework at the time. She was interrupted by her father, who ran into the house and told Grinker and her mother that they needed to get out and leave. According to Grinker, her father had seen a big fire nearby, through a window of their home.
“I was really scared because I had never been through something like that,” Grinker said.
After the panic had settled, Grinker and her family quickly began to prepare for the evacuation. They grabbed everything they could and everything they thought was necessary. But there was only so much time.
“We took our dogs, we threw everything else into the car and we just drove,” Grinker said.
Grinker and her family evacuated just in time, as their house was in the area that the fire had touched. Thankfully, this fire did not harm any homes.
“There had to be like 20 firetrucks and police cars… I didn’t really know where we were going. And then, we just stopped near Cipriani Elementary school,” Grinker said.
Firetrucks, police cars, helicopters, and news vans all gathered to observe the fires.
The Grinker family waited for the rest of the day outside, hoping to be able to come back home sometime soon. Despite all the panic that was floating in the air at the time, Grinker believed things would go in their favor from now on.
“Maybe an hour or so later, I felt perfectly fine because of the fire trucks and the police cars that were there. I figured, you know, it’s probably under control,” Grinker said.
All of a sudden it just happened. And I was really scared because I’ve never been through something like that before.”
— Kendall Grinker
The authorities had finally contained the fire, and the Grinker family went back home. The family learned much about the evacuation process from this entire experience.
“We went through a fire evacuation drill if something like (the fire) actually happened a lot closer to us and a lot more serious,” Grinker said. “You just have to stay calm.”
For the past couple of years, California has had a massive increase in wildfire activity. As of 2017, there has been a spike in fire danger, with millions of acres being burned every year. According to CalFire statistics, this year, more than an estimated 4 million acres have been burned, a new record-breaking amount for California. And, according to experts, the fires are not slowing down. Some may think that the fires are mainly in areas far away from the bay area, but many fires burn even within our county, and for all too many Californians, their lives were altered.
Some fires near San Mateo County were usually not that active, such as the fire in San Juan Canyon, Belmont, but other fires, even in San Mateo County, often got worse.