After the Fire…

Driving home to Orange County under a blood orange
sun, surrounded by the ashen smell of a million people’s pain, I thought about
the randomness of it all.Arson_suspected

Ray Siposs, a video producer based in the San Diego County
town of Vista,
was okay but unsure when he would receive the almost inevitable evacuation
order. Steve Dark already lost his neighborhood church in Malibu, and had yet to assess the damage to his house. My sister was enduring another day of no power, phone or
Internet service, though the fire threat had subsided. My former business
partner’s uncle had yet to be accounted for, though with the full evacuation of Lake Arrowhead, we’re sure he at least made
it off the mountain.

And me? Just another day of paradise by the wild fire’s light, shaken but not
stirred by an Orange County fire that got
within a few miles of home, leaving only raining ash and frayed nerves in my
humble corner of the OC.

Nothing breaks the spirit of a Californian like a fire.
Earthquakes are a piece of cake – no warning and over before you know it,
assess the damage and move on. But fire starts quietly and then grows, moves
and acts as if with conscience. It can change instantly and speed up or slow
down, teasing you with a schoolyard bully’s joy.

For most of the country the fires are over now. The
President felt our pain, the governor defended his response, and Qualcomm Stadium
will host football again.

But for too many of us – those who lost homes, those who had
to evacuate, those who didn’t know what would happen and those who took in the
tragedy with every smoke-filled breath – the fire, as the song says, still burns.

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