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Reset Twelve, Day Six [Sep. 11th, 2020|03:05 am]
Thursday wasn't as smokey as Wednesday. The sky was brighter and the air got a bit warmer, but it still stank, ash still fell like filthy snow, and the atmosphere in general was dismal. I ran down the battery on my phone watching video feeds from the local fire zone, and the burned over area was a miserable sight to behold. As in Paradise almost two years ago, there were smoldering ruins, burned out vehicles, and myriad trees that will clearly never recover from their encounter with fire. Another quarter of a million acres that will not be back to normal for decades.

Fortunately this region was nowhere nearly as densely populated as the Paradise ridge, but the current estimate is that at least two thousand structures have been destroyed. Of course the fire is still burning, much of it in rugged terrain where suppression by ground crews is out of the question, and as long as any of it is burning there is always the chance that another shift of the weather, most significantly another windstorm, could send the conflagration into a new frenzy. Numerous small settlements, many dating back to the gold rush period, are still in danger even without wind.

Other pats of the state are still enduring fires as well, and I was surprised to learn that, while my attention was focused here over the last two days, neighborhoods in the San Gabriel Valley east of Los Angeles, with which I was long familiar, were under evacuation warnings. This included parts of Altadena, Pasadena, Sierra Madre, Arcadia, Monrovia, and Duarte. And while I was complaining about the 109 degree high we suffered Monday, parts of the San Gabriel Valley got up to 117, and then only went down into the low nineties at night, while I was being annoyed by our lows in the mid-seventies.

I haven't looked up the current weather down there, but tonight Chico is downright chilly. If it didn't smell so bad it would be very pleasant outside. I've got the fan on, since the HVAC filters out at least part of the smoke, but I don't dare open the windows. Even with only the fan on the apartment already smells pretty bad, and I don't want it to get even worse. I don't know when we'll get to breathe fresh air again, but I expect the current fires to keep burning for weeks, and as it's only early September there is still a high probability that more fires will get started before the season ends. Or maybe I should say if the season ends. Given this year's record so far I wouldn't be surprised if no rain falls until next year. And maybe it won't fall even then. My capacity for optimism seems to have gone up in flames.