by Jim Caroompas
The fire on Mt. Diablo has claimed 3,700 acres so far, caused the evacuation of many homes near its path, and been the scourge of firefighters battling not just the flames, but the steep terrain.
But the fire has also, for the time being, claimed the peace of mind of those who normally see Mt. Diablo as a nearby presence of peace and stability. For the time being, though they are not in any immediate danger, many Clayton residents have not slept easily the past two nights.
“We’re vacillating between very concerned and very calm,” said Aimee Abbett, whose home gazes out on the mountain. “We’re trying to stay calm for the kids. The police drove to our neighborhood last night and they were very reassuring. They told us our neighborhood was safe. But our boys are definitely concerned. The youngest said to me that ‘after the fire, all the new young seedlings can grow.’ You need to be a kid to have that kind of perspective, I guess.”
She added that Contra Contra Consolidated Fire District’s closing of Clayton’s only fire station earlier this year “seems so short-sighted now.”
“All I can think about is the devastation going on up on the mountain,” said Carina Fryer, another Clayton resident. “The mountain is my second home. It is my playground. I know its trails and terrain like the back of my hand. It is upsetting to think of the damage sustained by the scorched mountain, its trails and all else that is burning. My heart aches for all those who had to evacuate their homes. I just have a sick feeling in my heart,” she said.
Losing the Diablo Bowman Archery Range, which Fryer’s son uses frequently, “feels like a personal attack.”
“Being close to this fire really makes you realize that life is fragile, one day you have it all, and the next day you could lose your little ‘nest’ and all of your worldly belongings,” said Laurel Madal. Still, as long as you have your life and your loved ones, you’ve really only lost possessions – and that can be replaced, loved ones cannot. I think about the people that have already been evacuated and it’s heartbreaking to think of the fear and anxiety that they must be feeling.”
She said the neighborhood has come together, standing on their street and watching the flames on the mountain.
“We felt helpless, but we felt like at least we were in this all together,” Madal said. “We tried to make a few jokes to make the mood lighter, but we all knew the magnitude of what was taking place right before our eyes. I think we all felt that we’d watch out for each other. We would anyway – fire or no fire - but in a situation like this, it feels good to actually stand side-by-side with your neighbors, look in to their faces and share feelings and fears.”