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Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Loge's Dance

4pm: Sat out back at work the other day, having a smoke, in the midst of a thunderstorm. Guy asks: "I'm not from around here. Is this rain normal?" Heck No!, says me, You kidding? September round here it's s'pposed to be real hot, like 80 degrees, but blowing a gale that sooks the moisture out your skin and propels the flames. This is fire season.

Sure enough, not two days later, on my goddamned birthday too, huge fires burning right now at both ends of town. The biggest one - the one to the west - has cast a ten-mile pall of smoke over the city, has jumped the 118 twice, is burning homes out on the Old Santa Susanna road that I normally drive to work, and is blazing and coursing the hills at the edge of town. That is the "Chatsworth" fire, because it began in Chatsworth, home of american porn, late this afternoon: the second fire there today, because the freeway was closed at 6am this morning too because of the first, which began around 3.45am. Out on the other side of town, the east side, there was a big fire there this afternoon too - in the town of Moorpark - which had cause some homes to be evacuated close by the college my son was at. He made it back here to work, but my wife is now trying to reach home. Already turned back from her regular route she has to travel all the way along the 101 and down the 23, see if she can get home that way.

The sky is thick with smoke and choppers; the wind is blowing to the south and to the east, blowing away from my quiet neighborhood right now, but that could change in a snap. We live at the northern edge of town, and partway east.

This time two years ago we were evacuated ourselves when the big bad Simi Valley fire came to the end of our street.

11pm Patty says, in commments, "So maybe 'Chatsworth' in Hebrew is 'Sodom'?" I ought to answer "We'll find out gomorrah", but some puns are too awful.

So here's the deal. The fire began just over the hill in Chatsworth, which is the north-western border of the San Fernando Valley - The Valley, as in "Valley girl" - which stretches forty-odd miles east and twenty-odd miles south in a humungous densely-populated strip. It's like Los Angeles' hairpiece. The fire. other hand, has not touched Chatsworth itself, but has rather spread southward and westward over the mountains and canyons of Santa Susanna that form the eastern and southern walls of Simi Valley, where I live. They aren't especially tall mountains, but they are extremely rugged, steep, and brimming with new-grown scrub as a consequence of record rainfall last winter. The fire has run over these mountains and down the canyons, and people in those areas have been evacuated. It is heading south towards the notorious 101 freeway (though it has quite a way to go before it reaches that far) and is heading west towards the Rocketdyne research plant, known around here for poisoning the water supplies to the people who live in the evacuated canyons, and for extremely noisy rocket motor tests. There is another arm of the fire this side of the freeway that is currently running north around the hills and mountains that mark the northern wall of Simi, at whose edge I live. But that fire is moving only very slowly, because it is against the wind, so it is still way up on the pass. Still, my kids have friends who live that way.

It is, at night, a stunningly beautiful thing to see - the more so, I know from past years, the closer and more dangerous it becomes.

Early Next Day: driving for the morning coffee (no kitchen, remember?) the view ahead through the window-confines of avenue trees, see flames up in the mountain and a little smoke. "Not too bad" says me. Little further on - just a very little - the view widens, widens into a miles-wide panorama of thick, heavy, billowing smoke. Ah.

The fire has pretty-much passed us by, but is headed south and still rampant. TV News is all over it, showing the monster flames teasing communities other side of the mountains. Still headed 101-ward, getting closer to it. There are hundreds of firefighters up and around - been up in those mountains all night - doing what they can to save and protect homes and businesses, with remarkable success: only one home is said to have been lost so far. It isn't bad enough this heat, that heat, and the thick heavy clothing they have to wear, but the terrain is so difficult. Magnificent, all of them.


Blogger Cowtown Pattie said...

So maybe "Chatsworth" in Hebrew is "Sodom" ?

8:14 PM  
Blogger DarkoV said...

Well, Happy Birthday FCB. Try thinking of the fires as one huge birthday candle. Nature's celebrating just for you.

5:20 AM  
Blogger Whisky Prajer said...

This birthday seems to find you in an apocalyptic mood. Or maybe it's just the landscape (LA has had that effect on me, a couple of times). It gratifies me to see that fire, ICBMs and a wee case of the gout aren't an impediment to your scottish humors.

6:11 AM  
Blogger -jkg said...

happy belated. mine was on teh 20th

i remember looking down to those socal flames.

good look with that. only threats here in new york are tax heights and terrorism.

10:07 AM  

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