Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Fire Season upon Us

This is the view that KNX is showing of the Los Angeles County fires mere minutes ago. It's accurate, because I am looking at the layer of dirty air above me. On the photograph, the spot marked closest to the ocean is the Malibu fire. The one almost perpendicularly north is the Stevenson Ranch fire, and that's the one I've got to keep an eye on, because its march to the sea could include Chatsworth where the Arabian Prince is in residence.

It's a bit like tornado weather around here, except there is no wet and the sky is brown instead of that sickly green that the mid-west gets as a storm approaches. Without the fires, I might even call it "Earthquake Weather," a phrase and title from Tim Power's work. "Earthquake Weather" doesn't usually have this kind of wind. It is warm and dry. The humidity is less than 10%. This is tinderbox time.

As I look out the window to the north, I can see blue sky between the cloudcast and the horizon, but just beyond the hills is black smoke from the fire to the north. Looking out the south window, it is evenly overcast, with the sun making the view a bit warmer than I would expect this time of the afternoon.

The air smells and tastes terrible. My throat hurts every time I take a deep breath. My eyes itch and weep. And I want to rip my skin off.

My friend Jack Dann arrived from Australia last night. He's beginning to think he brings these fires with him, because the last several trips he's made here have been in the Fall, and there were major fires--closer to us, in fact, than they are now. I could see flames from where I am sitting.

We deal with all of the four elements--or are they elementals?--in Southern California: earth, air, fire, and water in the forms of earthquake, wind, fire and floods. Fire and flood sort of alternate. I expect in moderation we would have neither or fewer of each.

That's the price you pay to live in Paradise.


kathy said...

>koff<. Ours is bigger. And our power grid's at 40%. Beat that. :D

Over half a million people evacuated. (Qualcomm Stadium is apparently one REALLY big sleepover right now). It's been impressive to watch this, remembering Firestorm 2003. Down here in San Diego, all the 24/7 fire-all-the-time live coverage since Sunday has had the continual subtext of "Hey, look. We learned a ton from the Cedar Fire screwups!" And I'm incredibly proud to be a San Diegan. We seriously rock at disaster response, now. Well, no surprise--we've had the practice of doing it all before.

And I've always thought of the California "seasons" as Fire, Mudslide, Earthquake, and Drought.

Fingers crossed that your Prince doesn't have to be moved!

M. C. Valada said...

I think San Diego is doing a great job of showing how people should react in a disaster. I don't think any competition is in order.

We've been wondering about friends in the San Diego area: Ray Feist, who lives in Rancho Santa Fe, Batt Lash somewhere in San Diego, and all of the wonderful photographers I've met when I've gone down to do lectures for the ASMP chapter.

My nephew, who moved there in July to work for the federal border patrol is apparently o.k. At least he was when I spoke to his mother earlier in the week.

The Arabian Prince is doing alright. I took his mask off yesterday and his eyes were still a bit crusty. His water was pure filth. My girlfriend Melinda Snograss had sent her big Hanovarian to a trainer in San Diego with the hope of selling him a couple of months ago--poor Pi got evacuated to Del Mar Fairgrounds. All reports are that he is fine.

Good luck to you Kathy. Thanks for writing.