That’s what the news agencies are calling it. And it’s not far off from the truth. Last night at 7pm, where was a count of 22 fires over 7 counties with only 2 at 100% containment. This morning, there is no fire over 30% contained, over 1100 homes and businesses destroyed, with 1000 of them in Northern San Diego, and almost 140 in the Lake Arrowhead area. Over a quarter of a million people have been evacuated over all the counties, and just as many acres have been burnt. There has been one fatality so far, of a man in San Diego that tried to stay and save his home. The federal government has declared Southern California a state of emergency, making us eligible to get not just federal funds, but resources from other states. The governor had already called in National Guard troops to help firefighters, but with the federal declaration, we are now getting firetruck from Arizona, Nevada, Washington and Oregon. And from Air Forces bases, one as far east as North Carolina come six C-130 conversion tanker planes to gives us more of the air power we need to fight these fires. The LA Times has a map online that shows the locations, destructions and percentage of containment of all the major fires that are still burning.
These fires though, are nothing new to Southern Californians. As long as there have been people living here and even before, wild fires has ravaged the Southern California area. It’s part of the ecosystem, so no, don’t even start thinking “global warming” is the cause. It’s one of the prices we pay for the mediterranean climate we enjoy with the mild winters and sun most of the year. The geological record is filled with conflagrations going back centuries. There are trees and chapparal whose seeds can’t germinate unless they are exposed to hundreds of degrees of heat. Anyone that’s lived here will have some story about fires. My mother remembers wildfires that raged through Temecula the same month my brother was born. LA county had some serious fires in the 70s. I remember the wildfires that roared through Riverside county, and were just one hill away from my apartment in the 90s. San Diego’s already suffered this decade with the Ceder Fire in 2003, that was the worst fire in the state’s history. I wonder how these new fires will hold up to that one?
Just like earthquakes, there is always talk about the “big fire” that we’re due. We always talk about trying to prevent these fires, doing controlled burns in area with high brush, and keeping brush clear from homes. But when Mother Nature decides to step in, there is absolutely nothing her can do to stop her. She will excert her authority from time to time, and all we can do is sit back and watch when she decided she will not be stopped. Of course, we don’t need to help her along any either. At least one fire, the one burning in Irvine has been confirmed as arson. It was start Sunday night, when our resources had already been stretched thin, and engines and teams that could have gone to help Northern San Diego or LA have to stay put to combat it instead. But as long as we realize the truth, that a lot of these fires are a natural disaster that we must face year in and year out, just as the midwest has their tornadoes, and the south and east has their hurricanes and floods, we can continue to strive and live on. This is part of what it means to live in Southern California