I watched Griffith Park burn yesterday from the parking lot at work, seven miles away, and heard that ash was falling in Atwater Village. I got home at 1 am and the fire was still only thirty percent contained. Part of the neighborhood to the west, Los Feliz, had been evacuated. A volcano appeared to be erupting at the end of the street.
I thought about worrying but decided I was too sleep-deprived to bother and also decided that the river and interstate between us and the oversized orange flames would keep the fire on that side of the highway.
Everything about California brushfires - tearing across mountains, jumping ridges, straddling canyons – is new to me. What I gather, though, is that besides the high temperatures, lack of rain, zero humidity, kids playing with fireworks, and smokers flicking lit cigarettes around the forest, it’s about wind blowing the flames and embers around and igniting the fire in different directions. Maybe even over interstates.
I'm no longer terrified of every single possible threat from the outside world, so last night I simply hoped for the best and fell asleep without even consulting the list of instructions that I made in 1982 for exactly this kind of situation, "Rules for fire + fire + fire + fire". If I had, I would have gotten the following tips:
#5 Always help your little brother or sister + if he is retarded like my brother
#7 Do not ever trampel people
#10 If a fire happens to be in your house the first thing to do is get out and stay out at your meeting place and you better have one!
#14 Always be careful of pink panthers
(I think my mom accidentally slipped me my brother's medication the day I made this list)
#15 If on school bus, don't panic
#16 And never panic