Watching The Mountains Burn

Last night I went to my first-ever Dodgers game. Even though it was a great game and tied 3-3 in the bottom of the 9th, we didn't stay for the overtime innings.

Why not stay for the end of the game? Because of this:

Yes, I was at Dodger Stadium and I could see the Station Fire burning in the mountains to the north of me. We left because my eight year-old son's eyes were watering and burning like crazy because of the poor air quality. I felt so bad because he wanted to watch what was going on, but the last two innings, he sat on my lap with his eyes squeezed shut. I also had burning, watering eyes and a burning throat, too, and that was even after taking some pre-game Claritin.

The Station Fire area is only a 15 minutes drive from my house. I just hop on the 2 Freeway and before I know it, I'm in the Angeles National Forest. A couple weeks ago I was up around the area where the fire began and I thought to myself, it's too dry up here and fire season is coming. I had no idea how soon it would arrive.

We're entering day seven of this fire and officials are saying there's no relief in sight. We're hearing that it could burn for two weeks. Day seven of having every window shut and the air conditioner running constantly in the hopes of filtering out the fine particles of ash. But I can't complain because I haven't lost my life fighting it and my home hasn't burned down.

To give you some perspective on how big this fire is, all five boroughs of New York City are a total of 195,000 acres. The Station Fire has burned 122,000 acres so far. It's 25 miles wide, 18 miles long in it's widest point, and only 5% is contained.

The Los Angeles Times photographers have been doing an outstanding job documenting the fire through spectacular yet chilling photos. The smoke is even visible from space.

Columnist Eugene Robinson has an interesting opinion piece in today's Washington Times. His opening line is, "Los Angeles seemed like a good idea at the time." He compares the existence of Los Angeles to the existence of New Orleans... another place that also seemed like a good idea, pre-Hurricane Katrina.

We should take common sense and the environment into account when building housing, but every place has it's dangers. I could move to the Midwest and have my house blow away in a storm. I could move to the East Coast and face hurricanes. If someone says the answer is for everybody to pack up and move to a place where there's no danger, I'm wondering where exactly is that spot?

In the meantime, a hurricane is bearing down on Baja California. I'm going to pray that somehow it'll steer itself closer to Los Angeles. We sure could use the rain.


it's quite crazy. i live in the South Bay, near Redondo Beach and you can see ash particles in the air. we really do need the rain. today looked like it might bring rain, but nothing so far. let's hope it reaches.
Liz Dwyer said…
Prisoners Wife,
When I was at Santa Monica Beach on Sunday I couldn't believe the view of the smoke clouds. It's just unreal. The air up here is horrible today, but at least it's a bit cooler. I hope that helps things.
April said…
I remember people making comments like that post-Katrina - "what a silly place to live," and I agree with you. Where exactly is it safe to live?
Liz Dwyer said…
Yep, in the Midwest I spent too many nights huddled in the basement listening to tornado sirens. I figure as long as I don't live on the lip of a volcano, I'll hopefully be alright.
Chookooloonks said…
Good Lord. Stay safe, okay?
Liz Dwyer said…
I'm trying! Thankfully where we are we only are in danger from bad air quality, not flames.
Jen said…
My heart goes out to all of you in the Station Fire area. The end of your piece struck a real nerve with me. When I was very young (20) I lived in the Bay Area and when the first earthquake hit I was terrified and left. Moved to Ann Arbor, where... yup... an earthquake - one of the few in the last thirty years. You know, you have to live where your heart tells you to, I guess.
Mes Deux Cents said…
Wow Liz. I saw the fires on the news this evening. They look horrific. I don't remember anything as intense as this in a long while. I remember the Malibu fires about 5 years ago were bad but not this bad.

I lived in Palos Verdes when I was a kid so it was a shock to hear that there were fires in Rolling Hills.

I hope your little one feels better. Breathing all that ash must be hard on little lungs.
Shiona said…
It was raining ash here as well and we're a good hour north. A bit closer to the Acton fire. My poor child was rubbing his nose and we just went fromt he house to the car. Saturday was really bad then it got a little better and today looked like it was going to rain but then as the sun came out it got worse than it did Saturday. Today we could actually smell the smoke. It always makes me so sad to see California burning.
Liz Dwyer said…
No kidding, an earthquake in Ann Arbor? That's really something!

I have a feeling this is just the beginning for fires out here this year. I'm scared for the Santa Ana winds to hit. And then we're scheduled for an El Nino so we may get the torrential rains that'll cause mudslides on the charred mountainsides. Good times are in store for us, I'm sure.

Those PV fires were a complete shock. I just hope none of these were intentionally set.

I kept the boys in the house all day, windows shut with the air conditioner running. His eyes are less red. Poor thing. :(
Liz Dwyer said…
It makes me so sad, too. I'll be glad when rain finally comes in October.

The ash film on everything has my kids drawing on everybody's car trunks and windows. It must be really bad for you all if your little one was rubbing his nose on such a short walk.
nick said…
Wow, those pics from the LA Times really show just how dramatic the fires are. And the journos tell us about the risk to property but not about the poor air quality you're having to contend with. An area the equivalent of two thirds of NYC, that's mind-boggling.

The irony is that Northern Ireland has had rain virtually every day for months. About time it left NI and headed for California.
Nerd Girl said…
The thing that gets me? These fires are nearly always started by either a crazy arsonist or a careless camper. I hope they're able to get the fires under control quickly. My parents are now within 10 miles of one. I pray for everyone's safety.
Liz Dwyer said…
Is there a great deal of flooding with all that rain? Wow, I can't even imagine us getting that amount here in Los Angeles. I'd take rain once a week here.

Nerd Girl,
Someone told me that one of them was started by a smoker who tossed a cigarette. Smoking is never a good idea but it is especially a no-no in forests.

I hope your parents are not affected directly.
Lotus Flower said…
This comment has been removed by the author.
nick said…
Surprisingly there's been very little flooding, just a few localised areas of NI and Belfast. But every patch of grass is pretty waterlogged, including our back lawn. It'll turn into a lake at this rate.
Liz Dwyer said…
Wow, that far inland you get impacted like that! I guess it just goes to show that it's important to be prepared for disasters no matter where you live.

On the upside, I'm sure everything is pretty green!

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