I met a neighbor today who lives three houses up the street . She’s lived there for 44 years , she said . I’ve been in my house almost 20 . We’d never met .
We were watching the fire and smoke up on the hill burning brush on the hillside above our houses . A helicopter had begun dropping loads of water on the flames . I could see a line of firefighters walking up a high ridge .
The radio news mentioned the fire . ” One or two acres , ” the reporter said . ” It seems to be under control . ” That was just around noon .
About four o’clock I took a walk up to the top of the street . A sheriff’s deputy was assigned to block the road from civilian vehicles . The road was full , by this time , of fire-fighting vehicles .
The fire had spread to 90 acres . The hill is dry . It hasn’t burned , the fire chief said , in 56 years . The dry brush went up in flame easily , spurred on by a mild wind . The terrain is almost inaccessible , sharp canyons and ridges .
I stood watching flare-ups , too near to houses . Two water-dropping helicopters and five fire-fighting prop planes were continually circling . The roads were full of fire trucks . Police cars blocked the roads .
And the stubborn fire persisted .
Welcome to southern California , I guess . Hopefully no houses were burned . Hopefully no people were hurt . In the afternoon several houses were evacuated . Maybe the neighborhood up near the fire has 50 years to reach the same fire danger as existed until today . But , many of them will have to be concerned about mud slides now , now that no vegetation will hold back the hillsides .
When my neighbor and I were watching the plume of smoke at noon , she said something about earthquakes , about the former owner of my house always ready for emergencies , with emergency supplies . Earthquakes . Welcome to southern California .