"Smoke and Fire"...those are two words which send fear down the spines for many of us who live in the desert southwest, especially those of us who live in Southern California. I grew up near the San Gabriel mountains and I remember at least twice that those mountains were on fire. And, living near the Malibu canyons, there were also several times during my childhood that they were ablaze and homes were lost. Believe me, we do NOT want to see smoke or fire! Our local mountains right now are very dry and the California Department of Forestry signs saying "Fire Danger: HIGH" are everywhere. I always check out cars that have stopped because a few years ago, on the east side of our mountains, an arsonist started several fires that raged out of control for several days and several firefighters were killed when their fire truck was overrun by fire. We haven't had any monsoon storms this summer and so there haven't been any lightning fires (phew!). I always look up at our mountains before I leave the desert to stop and see if there is any smoke. A couple of years ago there was a large fire down by Ramona and another one near Rancho Bernardo, which killed three people and destroyed many, many homes. My aunt and uncle, who lived in Rancho Bernardo, told me they had embers fall in their yard...it was that close to them! It came to within a mile of their house. Fortunately, the brave firefighters were able to save their neighborhood, but others were not so fortunate. So, yesterday I stopped to snap these photos of one of the local California Department of Forestry fire stations. This one is located in our local mountains and I spotted a burnt area by the road further down which they apparently got right on one afternoon recently. I remember being up at the horse ranch, looking up, and seeing the smoke from this fire. My heart immediately started pounding as I was alone on the ranch, the owners were gone, and I had no idea how far away they were. I even heard the sirens of the fire trucks as they went out to battle this fire. Fortunately, they knocked it down right away (see pics). . So, I believe this is a salute to the brave men and women who are the watchdogs of our mountains and valleys and serve the forest service and the California Department of Forestry. THANK YOU for all you do!