Fire in the Hills

Strange but true: the best coverage I’ve seen of the firest in Goleta and Big Sur has been coming not from the San Francisco Chronicle, not from the Los Angeles Times (although they got some good quotes yesterday), and certainly not from the Associated Press, which has been snore-inducing, but from a reporter from The New York Sun, Josh Gerstein, whose piece Paradise is Burning (here) stands out for its verve, its color, and its depth of understanding.

The spate of fires is being blamed on an unusual dry spell that has
left much of Northern California with little or no rain for more than
four months. "It’s exceedingly dry," a meteorologist with the National
Weather Service in Monterey, Diana Henderson, said.

While some parts of California were walloped with snow and rain in
February, totals for the season were about 70% of normal. "It’s one dry
year on top of another," Ms. Henderson said. "The conditions out here
are just ripe for the fire situation.

This has been mentioned by other papers, notably The New York Times, but tends to be glossed over. To be fair, the AP did bring up the $1 per single family residence fee the Gobernator wants to impose on California, and this morning The Los Angeles Times quoted him on the subject fully:

"Something is happening, clearly. There’s more need for resources than
ever before," he said. "It’s fire season all year round. . . . It’s a
different ballgame, so we have to respond."

There is some good news: Deetjens, the irreplaceable non-profit collection of supremely funky plank homes/rental units tucked into a creek canyon in Big Sur, does not appear to be endangered, at least so far. Thank God for that favor.

Maybe we should thank the Marines, too. Here’s a photo from forstonsr on Flickr, showing what a "Bambi Bucket" drop looks like from on high in a big U.S. Marines helicopter. It’s called "Hell Yeah! That was a Good Drop!"


Published by Kit Stolz

I'm a freelance reporter and writer based in Ventura County.

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