Friday, October 24, 2008
Is California Burning?
I feel almost as if I'm escaping from a burning ship.
Tonight I'm in Yreka, just a few minutes from the Oregon state line. Seven hundred miles behind me, Southern California is either on fire or on the verge of catching fire. This is like one of those disaster movies in which the protagonist couple walks out onto a high plain as the city they were living in is incinerated as a backdrop to their escape.
A state forestry official interviewed on NPR this morning described this situation as "permanent" due to the chronic prevalence of high winds in this heavily-populated region. He speculated that these conditions are the result of global climate change.
Two days ago, the Associated Press reported that Hot, dry Santa Ana winds — and a high risk of wildfires — returned to Southern California on Wednesday, but firefighters quickly jumped on the small brush blazes that erupted.
A 250-acre fire in foothills 60 miles east of Los Angeles gave an early morning scare to residents, but 30 mph winds pushed the flames away from homes and into mountains and canyons of Rancho Cucamonga.
Flames were out by midafternoon but the fire was technically only 60 percent contained because crews had not completely dug a line around it, San Bernardino County fire spokeswoman Tracey Martinez said.
Firefighters watched for signs of rekindling. "We can't let our guards down with the wind blowing like it is," Martinez said.
It's time to get out of SoCal, while the gettin's good.