People in the Bay Area who had never heard of Yolo County got a geography lesson when they woke up on Sunday to smoky skies and falling ash. Terra Firma subscribers, on the other hand, may have been wondering “Is the farm okay?”.
It’s true that a big chunk of our county is on fire right now, and that the fire is very close to Winters. The area that is burning is almost completely uninhabited wildlands in the Coast Range north and west of us. It has gotten a little too close for comfort to a few of our citrus orchards in the hills, but for the most part it isn’t threatening very many people. And because the wind was blowing the smoke towards the Bay, it has mostly been clear here, giving us a great view of the dramatic “fire works” in the hills.
You may have heard about all the firefighters working to protect us, but the reality is that like most fires, this one has been ruled by the wind. And for the most part, the wind has kept the fire from reaching the valley floor where the people and farms are.
You won’t read this in too many news articles, but the area where the fire has burned needed to burn. It’s been decades since there was a fire up there. In our climate of wet winters and very hot summers, fire plays a critical role the ecology of the oak woodland and scrub landscape. Thankfully, our county has not allowed much development in the western hills, or this fire might have been a catastrophe on the order of what happened in Napa and Sonoma last fall.
This is the Fourth year in a row that we’ve had a big wildlife in the area during the first week of July. I’m hoping this will be the last year for a while.