“As Though Pieces of the Sun Itself Had Crashed Into the Mountains”

From the December 2003 Trumpet Print Edition

November 2, 2003

Saturday morning, October 25, began as a normal day in Southern California. But about 10 a.m., the power went out at our mountain community home in Crestline. Our first indication of the source of the outage was a large plume of smoke rising from behind a ridge to our south.

We dug out the battery-powered radio and tuned in to area news channels. There was a major brush fire burning up Waterman Canyon, our normal route down the mountain. That road, Highway 18, was closed.

We watched the billowing smoke rise into the sky beyond the ridge line to our south. We kept checking the radio for updates as we watched the ridge, expecting to see flames crest.

Finally the power came back on. A sigh of relief. They must be getting a handle on it. The relief was short lived, as the power went out again. This outage was due to fire taking out the backup lines to the area.

Our apprehension grew, because this new head of the fire also cut off one of our two remaining escape routes.

As the day closed, the situation became more dire. We expected the authorities to notify us if evacuation was deemed necessary. Our sparsely populated neighborhood was dark and quiet. Information was at a premium. None of the officials we contacted seemed to have current information. The recordings at the telephone numbers for emergencies were hours old. When they were updated, the information was often long past relevant.

We noticed a neighbor, who works for the nearby police agency, loading his car. My wife asked him if he had heard anything. He said the town was under mandatory evacuation and confirmed the only open route down the mountain.

We quickly loaded our pictures, a few keepsakes and our most important papers and records and left our home. The going was slow as the single line of evacuees eked down the mountain; we gazed at a long red snake of lights ahead of us and a long white one behind us as thousands fled in the otherwise blackness down the winding mountain roads.

Finally we arrived at Interstate 15. As we drove through the Cajon Pass we could see to the east the “Old Fire” and to the west the “Grand Prix Fire.” Flaming tentacles reached up and down the mountains and passes. As the roots of a mighty tree they penetrated the inaccessible places, steered by the wind.

We observed the mountains from a safe area below for the next four days: cascading smoke by day, and red-orange glows by night, with flames often visible as though pieces of the sun itself had crashed into the mountains.

When the wind direction changed, all that could be seen was smoke. It looked like clouds and fog, only it burned in the eyes and throat and smelled like a billion campfires.

Now, eight days later, we wait. Authorities won’t allow anyone into our area due to many dangers: downed power lines, smoldering fires, falling trees and branches. And as we wait we muse on the constellation of curses that have devastated great swaths of the once Golden State of the West—all since the death of a venerable old man of God, Herbert W. Armstrong.

There has to be a reason for all this.