It was really hard to be optimistic on Wednesday when I made that blog entry. The fire was huge, the area had doubled overnight, strong winds were expected to pick up again. And after posting that entry, the area where my girlfriend lives was advised to evacuate. But hey decided to stay until until it was mandatory, which fortunately never came, and as of now even the recommended evac has been lifted.
Since then, things have been optimistic. As of now most of the larger fires seem to be at least 50% contained, which does not mean half way out. They just have preventative lines drawn around them using whatever techniques fire fighters use (or at least, that's how I am interpreting this). If the winds pick up strongly again the fires could get over the containment lines, but so far it doesn't look like those will come.
Though many people have been allowed to return to their homes, and some shelters have closed due to lack of necessity, no one is out of the woods yet. I don't know what the plan is to put out the fires, but it might be a while before they are 100% out. That said, the amount of help California is receiving is incredible. Apparently there are over 10,000 fire fighters working, and as of yesterday (I think) there were fire fighters from 17 additional states (Oregon, Washington, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, Utah, Colorado, Arizona, New Mexico, New York, Minnesota, Florida, South Caroline, Alaska, South Dakota, Wyoming and Indiana) and Australia helping out. Australia! Together they contributed 266 fire engines, 79 fire crews, and 56 other personnel. I am very grateful for the support that they have shown and for the work that they all are doing. If I weren't on the other side of the world I would sit outside the local fire station and cook pancakes all morning for them. My girlfriend works right next to it and will be dropping off a few batches of homemade brownies.
So while the battle is far from over, things are looking up, and I'm hoping they keep looking that way.