But the entire region looks like nuclear winter. The sky is an eerie gold. A layer of fine ash is everywhere. The air tastes like stale mesquite. It’s odd to pick up the LA TIMES and for the weather prediction, where it usually says sunny or partly-cloudy or rainy is says “smoky” today.
NBC’s Brian Williams has said the mass evacuation as a result of the fires is the “Largest Peacetime Movement of Americans since the Civil War.” On the other hand, surfers who have been able to get to Malibu have reported that the waves are currently fabulous. Cowabunga, dudes!
Wildfires are a game of Russian Roulette hundreds of thousands play here in Southern California. Especially with real estate prices so high, younger families must move farther and farther away from the city. New communities pop up in remote canyons. Where brush fires once charred empty acreage now they’re threatening countless homes… and lives.
All of us are affected, even those in safe terrains. Eric Pierpoint, one of the actors from my play on Monday night, came to the theater after evacuating his home. My partner’s living room is filled with possessions from a friend who had to evacuate. Many Angelinos have taken in emergency houseguests. Your heart goes out to the over 500,000 whose lives have been disrupted and especially to those who’ve lost their homes and memories.
And there’s nothing you can really do to avoid such natural disasters.
It’s the old story – where you gonna go? After the big ’94 quake many residents considered relocating to a safer part of the world. But just where is that? Who doesn’t have floods, giant snowstorms, hurricanes, tsunamis, droughts, earthquakes, avalanches, pollution, terrorists, monsoons, wildfires, tulie fog, bees?
Needless to say, television and radio news crews have been all over this “National Disaster”. For my money, the best coverage has come from KNX radio’s Dave Williams (pictured left) and KFWB radio’s Jack Popejoy. For all the helicopter views, field reporters, update crawls, and graphics on local TV, there’s still nothing like the immediacy and intimacy of radio. KABC’s coverage has also been excellent. And their promos should win awards.
As for TV, when not stepping aside for ACCESS HOLLYWOOD and WHEEL OF FORTUNE the local stations have provided extensive coverage that ranges from outstanding to idiotic. The usual bobbleheads are filing on-scene reports. This is where you can really separate the reporters from the swimsuit models. Being able to talk on your feet, offer clear concise reports, and answer the often stupid questions from the anchors while on live TV is a talent few possess. Best in LA: Mary Beth McDade from Channel 2.
And then there’s Clete Roberts. No one is or has ever been in his league.
Roberts was the reporter in the famous MASH episode, “The Interview”. But in the 50s he was a local TV news reporter. I remember vividly watching him file a live report from the Benedict Canyon fire. He was composed. He was informative. In the background was a house burning to the ground. His house.
The winds seem to be dying down and the heroic, tireless firefighters are starting to get a handle on things. And always looking for good news, the LA TIMES had this article Wednesday: “The fires could end up being a boon for construction.”
My best wishes and prayers to all affected.