The Kaleidoscope

California Under Fire

A Firsthand Account of the Bel-Air Fire

Home+burning+in+Bel-Air.+Photo+credit+to+Nytimes.com.
Home burning in Bel-Air. Photo credit to Nytimes.com.

Home burning in Bel-Air. Photo credit to Nytimes.com.

Home burning in Bel-Air. Photo credit to Nytimes.com.

Sophie West, Editor

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The American southwest has been under fire, so to speak, for most of 2017. Between January 1 and December 3, California alone has suffered over 6,760 wildfires (NBC Los Angeles).

 

On Wednesday, December 6, the Bel-Air neighborhood of Los Angeles was struck with an enormous fire. It burned up to the 405 freeway, which normally carries over 400,000 vehicles a day and is the busiest highway in the nation. The northbound lanes were closed, and commuters had to travel through ash and smoke. Ventura and San Fernando Valley were closely threatened by a massive fire that managed to consume 90,000 acres by Wednesday evening. That evening, all of Los Angeles County was issued a warning of “extreme fire danger” (Nytimes.com).

Fighting a fire in Carpinteria, California. Photo credit to Cnn.com.

 

Matt Brown of Central Los Angeles prepared for evacuation on Wednesday, December 6. He shared his experience with the Bel-Air fire in a brief interview with the Kaleidoscope:

 

Q: How close were the flames to your home?

 

Matt: The closest fire was in Bel-Air, around five miles from my home. That fire is mostly out now.

 

Q: Wildfires have been a huge threat to California this year. When did you start becoming concerned about your safety?

 

Matt: I became concerned on Wednesday when the mayor and governor announced for all residents to be prepared for a short-noticed evacuation. They said to be prepared to leave your home within 30 minutes of an evacuation notice, with your car facing out of the driveway.

 

Q: Have you evacuated?

 

Matt: I didn’t evacuate, but did immediately prep the car with emergency stuff (water, blankets, food, and got my papers in order).

 

Q: How difficult has it been to travel?

 

Matt: Travel in LA is extremely slow at all times. My job is a few miles away from the interstate that was shut down, so I didn’t experience a change in traffic at all.

 

Matt was fortunate to not be evacuated, but many other Californians were not so lucky. More than 700 Bel-Air homes were evacuated. Hundreds of schools were closed due to poor air quality. In an interview, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti said in a news conference, “These are days that break your heart. . . These are also days that show the resilience of our city” (Nytimes.com). CAL FIRE, California’s firefighting agency, expects high fire risk to continue into January of 2018 (NBC Los Angeles).

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California Under Fire