Well, it seems like half of southern California is on fire right now. :/ Our area is safe, but as usual we're downwind and getting a lot of smoke. My eyes are itching and watering and my throat feels icky. Much better than having our building burn down, though, which has happened to way too many people and will probably happen to more before this wraps.
They're calling this the worst fire in the area since 1961, and considering we have big fires pretty much every year, that's saying something. The Santa Ana winds blow off the desert toward the coast every fall. They're hot and dry and suck all the moisture out of everything. If a fire starts, it flares up right away and everything's tinder. And the winds themselves blow embers all over the place. Jim and I were watching the news around midnight and they had continuous vids of the fire going; there'd be the main fire line, with a bunch of little spot fires starting up in front of it, growing larger and larger, especially as the wind made them flare.
We were watching video from (the ironically named) Carbon Canyon for a while. The whole thing was blazing and the fire fighters were up on one rim, hosing down the brush and trees right there at the top and just over the rim, trying to protect a mobile home park and a church. The canyon had turned into an oven, holding in so much of the heat that huge sheets of flame were towering over the silhouetted fire fighters. And of course the canyon just channels the winds, too. They had to get right up at the edge of the canyon to get the water over the rim to the top of the slope, since it doesn't do any good to just sprinkle the tops of the flames.
We could only see the fire fighters as dark shapes, and the dark curves of the water. They were tiny compared to the spurts and sheets of fire and it seemed like it must be futile, but the commentators said it was working and that the fire department was optimistic about being able to save the buildings behind them.
There were also photographers down there with them. It was funny -- I'd just finished saying to Jim that the flames were so close, they must've chased all the media away by then, and he'd just agreed with me. (The footage we were watching was from a helicopter, and the on-the-ground commenter who'd been reporting to the station over the phone had hung up to move back a few minutes earlier.) Then about three seconds after I made the comment, I saw the unmistakeable silhouette of someone with a video camera on his shoulder! That's going to be some awesome footage, whoever it was and wherever it gets shown. I'm still surprised they were allowed to stay right up with the fire fighters there like that.
Anyway, I'm okay, except for some minor respiratory stuff. I have several sets of virtual fingers crossed for the people who are losing their homes and businesses, and in some cases already, their lives. :( Good wishes are appreciated for my neighbors in the larger area.