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The fire in the Santa Cruz mountains became an imminent threat to us late on Tuesday night and we evacuated to a friend’s house in Santa Cruz. We got all the instruments out and most of the very important stuff. I’ve been kicking myself for forgetting the book I’ve written all my instrumentals in over the past 15 years and my artwork, but we can still pray it will all survive. At least we are safe and decided to get out when we did. It seemed relatively far away from us, but then everything started changing very quickly and within a couple hours we’d decided to pack the cars and very soon after got the code red mandatory evacuation notice.

Yesterday we heard that the fire burned two of our neighbor’s homes and burned Dan’s recording studio shed to the ground (he thankfully had evacuated most of the equipment since the freak lightening storm that sparked these fires). Thankfully, so far the report is that the other structures on the property we live on are still standing. The fire still rages from various directions and with limited fire crews due to other extreme fires around the state, so I hardly think we can assume they’ll remain spared.

This terrible week started with a heat wave followed by a freak lightening storm Saturday night that knocked out our power, phones, or internet until Tuesday afternoon, just a few hours before we learned we had to evacuate. For those who are used to T-storms every few days throughout the summer, a storm of any kind from about May to November is very rare in California (we’re talking years if not decades). A winter T-storm only happens once every few years, and a summer one is maybe only once every 10-15 years, usually sparking forest fires since everything dries out pretty quickly here in the summer once the rains stop.

We were up most of that night with continuous, mostly dry thunder and lightening, wondering if a strike would hit close by and we’d have to evacuate. From a detached standpoint, it was an amazing show, but terrifying on a mountaintop in the middle of fire season! Dan packed up all his gear and took it to a friend’s storage space in town the next day and I packed up to be ready. While some fires started immediately with the storm, none were particularly close to us and it took a few days for embers to spark the blaze that has now been steadily consuming Bonny Doon this week.

The waiting and wondering is very difficult to sit with right now and we’re starting to consider various options for the future, especially if we become homeless in the next few days. I haven’t cried this much in many many years. My heart aches for what’s been a really sweet place to call home for the past five years, the people on the mountain who have already lost their homes, and all our little animal and plant friends we really got to know and love throughout the quarantine - may they be spared.

Here’s a photo a friend was able to get in and take yesterday of the hillside where Dan’s studio was two days ago, as well as a photo by Derek Fester of the lightening that created all this drama.

Dan had recorded 32 of his 70+ solo albums in that little space and we were working on the Dan and Laurel album #5 in there this summer. At least he still has all the instruments he used to record these albums and most of his studio gear. Enjoy some here and please hold us and all of Bonny Doon and California in your thoughts and prayers

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Laurel Thomsen

Violin, Viola, Vocals
Performance, Instruction, Recording

Based in Santa Cruz, California

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Photography by Michelle Magdalena
Skype: laurelthomsen

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