Upsetting
Sunday, October 26, 2003
 
In San Diego, it’s been pitch-black nearly all day long, and it has nothing to do with turning the clocks back last night. These fires have paralyzed us, and the mayor went on TV to say that all “non-essential” city and county employees should stay home tomorrow. He encouraged employers in the area to give workers the day off to alleviate traffic for emergency services on the overworked highways. My primary employer closed the office for tomorrow.

Some of my friends packed belongings and took their dog to a hotel near the beach, where rooms were comped if you live in an area threatened by flames. They said the hotel people didn’t ask too many questions.

There was no football on TV today, which was kinda weird, until the ESPN Sunday night game started at 5:30 p.m. The network affiliates have been going nonstop with coverage of what they are calling FIRESTORM 2003.

It’s crazy.

The parking lots at Qualcomm Stadium are filled with people who have left their homes. Tomorrow’s Chargers game against the Dolphins has been moved to Arizona.

The airport is dead.

My home is about five miles from the closest flames, and when I woke up this morning at eight, the sky was already burnt orange and there was soot all over the place. Now, the cars in the neighborhood are covered with ash and dirt. The people on TV have told us to stay inside and close all our windows. The have asked that we minimize use of appliances and conserve water.

Our power briefly went out about an hour ago, just long enough to mess up all the digital clocks. My neighbor across the street, the Yankees fan, was out in the street this afternoon with an army-green shirt and camouflage pants on. He was wearing at least one phone on his belt, and he was talking into a headset.

I went out front with the dogs and asked him if he was going to fight the fires himself, and as soon as he opened his mouth I knew he was in no joking mood. He went all Y2K on me, talking about wind directions and updrafts, about how the heat from the fire creates its own weather system, that it was coming our way.

He looked at me as an unbeliever when I said there was no way the flames could bore their way into the concrete city. An infidel, I registered in his eye. I took the dogs back inside and told him I’d talk to him later. I haven’t.

We didn’t start drinking until just a couple of hours ago because we couldn’t really decide if we were going to have to do anything about the fire. Our friends kept calling – some from the East Coast and up north – and asked if we were all right. Everyone here keeps saying it’s like Armageddon or “The Day After.”

We didn’t really get all that bent about it. I mean, there’s not much we can do.

We opened a bottle of white wine and put on “Bowling for Columbine,” and for a while we forgot that the rest of the county was scorching. I think we’ll sleep well tonight and try to enjoy the day off on Monday.

Hope you’re safe.

(Then I read this, which did cross my mind earlier today.)
 
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