Wednesday :: Oct 29, 2003

Big Fire in San Diego


by Duckman GR

The Duckman here. The smoke seems to be subsiding somewhat, although the fires are just moving east into our nice mountain communities, burning the dead and dying trees courtesy of years of drought and bark beetles. Yeah, if only those damn environmentalists hadn’t stopped those noble timber companies from harvesting all that dead growth, we wouldn’t be in this mess. Here’s my money quote, “In the San Bernardino mountains, residents have tried to get sawmill companies to set up shop and salvage dead and dying wood. But many of the trees are a type of knotty pine that doesn't have much commercial value” says the Sac Bee writer. It's no different in San Diego County.

Here in California, if it isn’t Bill Clinton’s, it’s Gray Davis’ fault, don't you know. Or maybe not.

But that doesn’t matter. The fact that here in San Diego we have no real timber industry, the trees are of limited value, Fed lands and private lands are intertwined like so much spaghetti, we are guilty of urban sprawl and wanton disregard of nature, charlatans living in a desert mirage, sucking precious water for frivolous things like organic farming, avocados and Christmas poinsettias. Here’s the reality. $1.2 billion dollars of agricultural production that ranks San Diego county 5th largest in the state, ranking high in eggs, nursery products, ornamental flowers and plants, tomatoes, avocados, mushrooms, and cucumbers.

It’s been a long week these past 3 days, and we haven’t even begun to sort out the damage. Many of the communities hit here have been established, like Crest where 200 or more homes have been lost, out of maybe 600, Cuyamaca, a nice little mountain community around our nice little Lake Cuyamaca reservoir, which is reportedly 90 percent gone, Wynola, on the road to Julian, and probably devastated. No Julian Apple Pies in October, probably no Dudley’s Cinnamon Raisin Date bread, no nice drives to the mountains for some apple cider, clear mountain air, the pleasures of a small but famous town not completely overrun by the tourist trade.

It was a lovely Sunday evening, the stars, well, okay, no stars through the thick ashen sky, the sun descending towards the ocean, well, I guess it did, because it usually does, but what little I saw of the sun, suffice it to say you could stare at the sun with no fear of eye damage, an angry red orb glaring at us pitiful humans. Anyway, as an orange dot to the east I first thought was someone’s porch light but which ten minutes later was a long line of flames coming down over the hills in Crest, maybe a mile long, approached I decided to re-evaluate my emergency preparedness, just in case.

People gathered on the corner,


update 5:25 pm 10/29/03:

Lest any of my dozens of readers think I'm blowing my own horn here, think again. I'm using myself as an example. I know plenty of people who do a whole lot more than I do, fought against arnold far more than I, who get better gas mileage than my truck does, are smarter and write better. Those who opposed the recall, voted for Al Gore, think California is a great place to live, and so on, we're all in this together. Duckman GR

wondering where the Fire Dept was, whether the Police had passed by, popping into the house to see if the news was covering our developing situation, as the flames moved down the hill. But there was no Fire Department or Police, because they were fighting a fire that had swept some 20 miles from the foothills nearly to the coast, then back again and up to the town of Poway with their million dollar homes, Tony Gwynn, Janet Jackson, lots of wealthy athletes and executives, then at the same time moving south another 10 miles through Alpine and Crest, while there was also another fire threatening Escondido, The Wild Animal Park, Palomar Mountain, and still another fire coming from the south county heading north.

And all this while the fires in Simi Valley and San Bernadino were raging. 80,000 people have been evacuated from Big Bear and environs, the Simi Valley fire was threatening to move into the San Fernando Valley, and I’m sitting there gagging on ash filled air wondering where the Fireman was.

Yes, there are too many people in San Diego. There must be a reason though. Must be the weather. Or the Biotech companies. The beaches. The lack of blizzards and hurricanes. Good schools like UCSD and USD. The Salk Institute, The Scripps Institution of Oceanography, employers like Qualcomm, SAIC, the U.S. Navy, the biodiversity and climate diversity. San Diego County is a biological hotspot because of the diversity of plants and animals, I believe the greatest diversity in the continental United States, we have climates ranging from beaches to mountains to deserts, all within a hours drive or so. Vegas is only six hours away, L.A., 2 hours, we’ve got major league sports (sometimes), stop me, I’m starting to sound like a travelogue, and the truth is, it’s horrible here. Nothing to do, nothing to see, pollution, crime, blight everywhere. Travel is abysmal, housing outrageous, yes, move along, nothing to see here.

What started this rant was the comments from Atrios’ board the other day, here.

I was disturbed by some of the comments, and posted one of mine as follows:

“I just wanted to thank all of the posters for their concern and compassion. Yes, there's nothing like kicking people when they’re down. Yes indeed, us Kalifornian's are nothing but a bunch of lucky duckies, aren't we.

Yes, indeed, I personally deserve all these fires because I was born here, I personally deserve arnold because I voted against him, worked phone lines against him, wrote letters to the editor against him and his free ride press coverage (oh, and thanks Oprah and Jay and Larry too).

Yes indeed, I personally deserve all these fires because I conserve water and energy and recycle cans, take hangers to the dry cleaners, separate my trash, pick up loose cans and trash, pay my taxes without complaint, visit the Cleveland National Forest and obey the rules, pick up trash on a hike, pay the day fee without complaint.

Yes indeed, I personally deserve the fires because I oppose sprawl, have a house that is built to withstand those pesky earthquakes, enjoy a warm normal October day while people in Chicago or Buffalo or Billings are ass deep in snow, sleet, hail, or rain.

Remember the Super Bowl(s) we've had here in San Diego? 70's and beautiful blue sky. Remember the Super Bowl, the last one they'll ever have, in Detroit? Blizzard.

The next time you're dipping your chip in guacamole, munching on some almonds, sprinkling sugar on your cereal, having a salad, admiring a poinsettia at Christmas, I could go on, think about how deserving us Californian's are.

Yeah, I personally, and we collectively, deserve those fires, big time. Thanks.”

I was kinda irked. There were some valid points, and it was just a few people being nasty, but my point was, and remains, that they’re blaming the wrong people.

People just want to live free of fear, safe and secure in their homes. Sometimes an idiot hunter lights a “signal” fire. Sometimes bombs rain down from above. Sometimes the police bang on your door and haul you away in your pajamas because your skin color and last name aren’t the “right” ones.

Greed and avarice, that’s who’s at fault, that and ignorance, and stubbornness, and clinging to outdated notions of property and fault and being “right.”

Everyone in San Diego County has been touched by these fires, everybody knows someone, a co-worker, family, friend of a friend, impacted directly by this. San Diego will pull together and get through this. Despite the politicians already trying to find someone to blame.

Duckman GR :: 3:26 PM :: Comments (4) :: Digg It!