Joan Ryan was sitting on a bench with her Chihuahua, P-nut, late this morning at the Mira Mesa High School shelter. In a cart beside her, she had her earthquake kit — a purple cooler filled with her prescriptions and water. She also had dog food for P-nut and clothes for herself. And she had P-nut’s “baby,” which is a stuffed blue monster. P-nut shivered on Ryan’s lap, her eyes darting nervously.

Ryan decided to leave her senior citizen apartment building in Poway this morning at 6 when she heard news that a fire had reached Lake Hodges. She took surface streets instead of freeways for the 20 minute drive to Mira Mesa. When she arrived this morning the shelter had no more available cots, and Ryan was not allowed to bring her dog inside. “Tonight I’ll sleep in the car, I guess,” she said. “This is a first and I hope it’s a last. Thank god I had my flu shot already with all these people.” When Ryan heard yesterday about the fires, one of the first things she packed in her car was a quilt she made for her great-granddaughter for Christmas. She put six months of work into the gift.

The news about the fires and the winds that are growing them are worrisome to Ryan. “These winds are just awful,” she said, scratching her dogs chin. “But we figured we could always jump in the ocean. Right, P-nut?”

KELLY BENNETT

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