An en­tire neigh­bor­hood gone overnight?

Manteca Bulletin - - Local - JA­SON CAMP­BELL Staff Re­porter

When I first heard about there be­ing a fire rag­ing through Wine Coun­try, my ini­tial thought was some high-end winer­ies were in dan­ger of los­ing their har­vest.

It’s kind of the same re­ac­tion that I had when I heard that a 6.0 earth­quake rocked the Napa area in 2014, only to later find out that the dam- age was ex­ten­sive – and even deadly – and racked up a re­pair bill of some­where close to $1 bil­lion.

It’s not that I’m cal­lous, but liv­ing in the North­ern San Joaquin Val­ley means that the ar­eas that most Cal­i­for­ni­ans typ­i­cally re­fer to as “wine coun­try” is quite a bit out of the way. I’ve never spent a great deal of time in that area to forge a per­sonal con­nec­tion to the area or the peo­ple.

Save for a few week­ends at Sonoma State Univer­sity, a bas­ket­ball tour­na­ment in Santa Rosa and a week­end spent in Healds­burg, my exposure to that area is quite lim­ited and it makes news from that area seem like it’s tak­ing place a world away. Un­til I saw that pic­ture. Cred­ited to the Cal­i­for­nia High­way Pa­trol, the photo – which has been shared widely on the In­ter­net and ap­peared on ev­ery news broad­cast cover­ing the myr­iad of fires that are cur­rently dec­i­mat­ing the area – showed what was a rel­a­tively nice-look­ing neigh­bor­hood re­duced to smok­ing rub­ble af­ter the fast-mov­ing fire ripped through with seem­ingly lit­tle warn­ing.

When all of the fires that are af­fect­ing the area are com­bined, a to­tal of 31 peo­ple have died since the flames broke out late last week and hun­dreds are still miss­ing.

That aerial view doesn’t look much dif­fer­ent than the neigh­bor­hood that I live in, and I can’t re­ally wrap my head around driv­ing onto the street and see­ing ev­ery sin­gle home com­pletely gone – re­duced to ashen ru­ins.

And the worst part? Be­cause of nearly zero hu­mid­ity and high winds, the fire crews that are bat­tling in the area have yet to get a han­dle on the de­struc­tive blazes – call­ing in re­in­force­ments from through­out the state, the West, and even over­seas in or­der to try and save more towns in dan­ger of be­ing erad­i­cated.

When the rain­drops were fall­ing last win­ter and our reser­voirs mirac­u­lously filled up in one storm sea­son, I have to ad­mit that I never thought about what that much water would do to the ex­plo­sive grasses and un­der­brush that fuel th­ese fast-mov­ing fires once the Oc­to­ber in­ferno sea­son de­scended upon us. We had rain – we had been pray­ing for rain – and all of our problems had been solved. But when hav­ing a con­ver­sa­tion with a fire­fight­ing friend – who may very well be on scene of one of those fires as I type this try­ing to save lives and homes – af­ter that freak sum­mer storm rolled through, he warned about what that water can do to the growth that has been largely ab­sent for the last four or five years.

I didn’t take it se­ri­ously, and I ab­so­lutely should have.

I’ve seen what de­struc­tive fires can do to beau­ti­ful ar­eas in North­ern Cal­i­for­nia, and the nat­u­ral process of com­ing back from those flames can take years – if not longer.

So, my thoughts and prayers are with the peo­ple of Santa Rosa, Napa, Sonoma, Cal­is­toga, Men­do­cino and the dozens of ham­lets that dot the maps around them, as well as with the men who have grabbed their go bags and driven straight into the area that most peo­ple are try­ing to get away from. Pigskin Prog­nos­ti­ca­tors

Pick Again Some of us went out on a limb last week, and one of us picked the wrong limb.

While Chris Te­icheira and I have been largely in-step with our picks, last week Eric Wohle and Mark Con­dit tried to take some chances and claim the top spot in what has been a neck-and-neck race to claim the throne this year.

Some­how Wohle ended up with the same fin­ish as Te­icheira and I – 4-2 – while Con­dit mir­rored that with a 2-4 tally that only added in­sult to in­jury from the long, slow ride home from Oak­dale in Tatanka af­ter the Oak­dale vic­tory over Manteca Fri­day night.

That means that af­ter three weeks, Te­icheira and I re­main tied for first place at 12-5, while Wohle slid into sec­ond place at 11-6. Con­dit, who was only a game off the lead last week, fell to 9-8.

But that’s okay – a lot of things can hap­pen in the com­ing weeks, and the pres­sure is mount­ing to make moves. Let us not for­get that brag­ging rights are on the line.

So, let us lay out what we think is go­ing to hap­pen.

▶Camp­bell – I’m branch­ing out on my own here this week (sorry Chris – I must walk alone) and pick­ing Lathrop over East Union, Manteca over Kim­ball, Oak­dale over Sierra, Modesto Chris­tian over Ripon, the Raiders over the Charg­ers (I can’t bring my­self to root for a Dean Spanos team de­spite my dis­taste for the Sil­ver and Black) as well as the Red­skins over the 49ers. Now, as one who sub­scribes to the group who be­lieves the mas­cot needs to be changed, and as some­body who was born, raised and re­mains a fan of all things San Fran­cisco, this should speak vol­umes. They’re ter­ri­ble, and at this point – a No. 1 pick would be quite nice.

▶Te­icheira – Could the man who promised to wear a horse head if Manteca lost to Oak­dale last week be the leader af­ter the fourth week of Val­ley Oak League play? I’m sure he thought that wasn’t go­ing to be brought up, and I’m will­ing to let that slide if the other gen­tle­men of the thread agree. Stay tuned – this could be an amaz­ing pic­ture. This week he’s of course go­ing with his beloved Buf­faloes, and strik­ing out on his own by pick­ing Ripon over Modesto Chris­tian – “I’m rid­ing the Red” is what he left me in a voice mes­sage. He is also tak­ing Lathrop, Oak­dale (he mum­bled some­thing about a de­fen­sive co­or­di­na­tor), his Raiders and the Red­skins. Depend­ing on what hap­pens Fri­day night, he could be the leader come Mon­day morn­ing. We shall see.

▶Wohle – The Lancer grad – who claimed sole pos­ses­sion of sec­ond place af­ter last week – is putting all of his faith in his alma mater, and it could be the move he needs to inch into the top spot (both Chris and I are tak­ing Lathrop). He’s also tak­ing Oak­dale, Ripon, Manteca, the Raiders and the Red­skins (he said Wash­ing­ton and I just hope he’s not con­fused with his other alma mater, who de­stroyed my Bears last week.) If the Lancers can rally to vic­tory, and Ripon gets past Modesto Chris­tian, this could be the week that a Lancer claims the top spot.

▶Con­dit – “Yoda” had a bad week last week, but he’s look­ing to re­bound with picks that he sub­mit­ted in all caps. Yes, this man means busi­ness. He’s tak­ing East Union (prob­a­bly the right play), Oak­dale, Cen­tral, Modesto Chris­tian and the op­po­nents of both the 49ers and the Raiders. Mak­ing moves didn’t pay off last week, but he stands a chance at inch­ing up this week, and noth­ing would make me hap­pier than to get a boast­ful thread text af­ter he fin­ishes un­blem­ished this week. I ap­pre­ci­ate the swag­ger.

Un­til next week.

To con­tact re­porter Ja­son Camp­bell email jcamp­bell@man­te­cab­ul­ or call 209.249.3544.

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