Southern California is burning. The dry hot Santa Ana winds are gusting up to 60 mph, and shifting directions unpredictably. The fire fighters and other emergency personnel are stretched to their limits. None of the fires are contained. Before I moved to So Cal, I hadn’t heard of containment as in “This fire is 25% contained.” It doesn’t mean the fire is 25% out; it means that they can keep that 25% of the fire from spreading. Right now we are at the mercy of the wind.
There has been at least one death, and there have been injuries, and sadly there may be more. Houses and businesses have burned, thousands of human lives have been endangered, and the ecological toll will be enormous. Thousands of acres are on fire: over 100,000 in San Diego County alone. Whole communities have been evacuated, some of them to the fairgrounds a few blocks from our home. Most schools are closed.
The Govinator has declared a state of emergency.
The sky is ugly smoky orange. The winds are raging. The air is thick and hurts to breathe. Everything smells and tastes like the inside of a firepit.
The fire nearest me, in Irvine, was started by an arsonist.
This is Southern California; fires have become part of reality, like mudslides and earthquakes and stupid car chases. They actually call this time of year, October through December, “fire season.”
The descriptions of the Third and Seventh Terrace of Purgatory suggest Dante may have been here during fire season. It’s just a theory, ya’ll.
And Southern Californians do what they do.
Most businesses are open except where there are actually flames. The morning traffic was even worse than usual. People at work exchanged terrible driving stories, just like they always do.
Many people refused to evacuate, so emergency personnel had to go house to house to rescue residents as the flames came closer and closer.
This morning on my way to work, I drove past construction workers and landscapers outside, doing heavy manual labor in filthy air you can SEE and TASTE. I wondered how much damage they are doing to their lungs today, and why their bosses do not care.
And in the midst of all this, the radio station did a report on which celebrities’ houses are in danger of burning.
Is everyone here crazy, or is it just me?