In case of fire, pack car

The Brins fire is really cramping my Northern Arizona style. I live a few miles south of Flagstaff, just about at the northeastern end of the canyon in which the fire is currently sitting. Since Sunday afternoon, the neighborhood has been pretty well socked-in with smoke, enough that we have our very own smoke and ash advisory that includes advice to be prepared for evacuation. The fear is that if the fire fully reaches Oak Creek Canyon, it may burn its way right to our door.

So if you had to leave your house, what would you take with you? The preparedness advisory suggests the essentials: Medicine, clothes to last a few days, important financial and insurance documents, and all the keepsakes that aren’t replaceable. I’d add to that my file drawers of archival dissertation material that’s not yet digitized, the backup hard drives, some photos. But I’m sure that leaves things out: My grandmother’s heirloom lace tablecloth; plenty of books with sentimental value; a couple of antique tools. The thought of losing things that are irreplaceable is not even so much worse—in forethought, anyway—than the thought of having to replace all the things that would be insured.

As if itemizing one’s life and staying out of the smoke wasn’t bad enough, word comes this morning that the Forest Service is closing the entire Coconino National Forest until further notice, in order to reduce the likelihood of further fire. Flagstaff is fully boxed in by the Coconino, so we’re not only cut off from the woods that surround our neighborhood (in which we’ve been doing lots of biking this summer), but in fact just about all the outdoor areas nearby, including the Blue Ridge Reservoir where we planned to kayak today. With the entire forest closed, it’s a pretty long trip to anywhere that we can take the dogs for a good walk. I’m still plenty happy to be out of the Tucson summertime, of course, but I’d like some fresh air soon.