Fleeing flames himself, mobility expert turns to 'fire blogging'

There’s blogging … and then there’s blogging while everything on three sides around you goes up in flames. Doing the latter is Jim Forbes, a retired tech editor and founding producer of Network World’s then DemoMobile brand, as he huddles in a Southern California evacuation center with his “two useless cats, and my bug-eyed road buddy Perro.”

His latest post, headlined -- “Fire Blogging, A Refugee's Observations and Why I Love my Ultra Portable and Verizon Broadband” – is a riveting account of what it’s like to live in fire country and condemnation of the job mainstream media outlets in that area are doing getting people the specific information that they need to survive.

(Update: Here's my Q&A with Forbes.)

A sample:

The bug-out call came from the police department around 1 p.m. so I loaded up my useless cats and my road dog and off I went to an evacuation center at the north end of Escondido. I stayed there until about 6 tonight and decided to haul ass for Azusa, where I know my dog and useless cats will be safe for the night.

As I write this the eastern and southern sky are cherry red and the smoke is pretty intense. I’ve thought a lot about what’s left up at the house. My giant ag water canons are hooked up and on a timer.  At 8:30 tonight they’ll start soaking my lower yard and the front of my house.  There’s a lot to be said for having 135 PSI water pressure. Well at least, if the fire gets to my house, I’ll come home to some nice black sooty mud.

My attitude about fleeing my house is simple: other than my pets, I don’t have anything I can’t replace. Been there done that in life. But I may appear like some grizzled super salty vet, I’m not the least bit ashamed to admit that I’m very afraid of being seriously burned, again. I was burned pretty seriously as a kid. I had 3rd degree burns on about 50 percent of my legs.  The pain is something you have to experience to believe. It’s quite unforgettable.

Forbes pointedly criticizes the local media -- radio stations, in particular – for blathering on endlessly about the fires without bothering to provide the kind of specific information about escape routes that can spell the difference between life and death.

He does offer high praise for those running the evacuation center … as well as the technology he’s using to get his story out.

The San Diego Union’s Web site is collecting information on where help is needed and those willing to help.

And if you want to get a better idea about how rapidly and far these fires have spread, NASA has satellite photos.

(Update: One picture is worth 335,000 charred acres -- latest from NASA.)

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