When any of our brave firefighters are injured by a Southern California wildfire, we get properly reverential, along with our proper thanks for the women and men who do a killer job in killer conditions.
So far, with the Santa Anita Canyon fire, we’ve got an allergic reaction to a bee sting, a turned knee and a heat exhaustion. All three firefighters are back on the lines.
And when folks have lost their homes, we stay pretty serious as well. Everything gone — it’s unimaginable. But as of now — 11:30 on Monday morning — a little outbuilding, something like a shack, has been lost.
So, after spending some time in Sierra Madre this morning, hanging with my regulars at Bean Town and heading up Baldwin with my camera as far as the deputies would let me go, can I just note that this the main effect for most once the coughing is over is going to be years of looking at the most godawfully ugly scorched earth imaginable? Even for those who never get closer to our mountains than the Foothill (210) Freeway, you won’t be forgetting about this one for a long, long time. And you’ll appreciate how gorgeous our mountains are when the chaparral hasn’t been turned to ash.
Plus, of course, for the hardy souls — and hundreds of Sierra Madreans are among them — whose most avid hobby is hiking in those mountains, this is a more personal tragedy. Not a deadly one, no, though no doubt some critters have had it — bobcats, mountain lions, bears, possums, snakes, skunks, raccoons and any other animal that couldn’t move fast enough along the fire line — but no human lives have been lost. Still and all, the glories of hiking the Mt. Wilson Trail, a classic since the days of the great hiking era a century ago, are not going to be the same for a long, long time. And that’s a big loss.
Ugly ain’t the worst thing in the world. Great work from all the public agencies for keeping it merely that, and for keeping people and their stuff out of harm’s way so far. Not that this thing is over.
Sunday morning from my house near the western edge of the Arroyo Seco, the smoke from above Sierra Madre had settled in low over the San Gabriels like an almost-attractive fog in a Japanese painting: