From the balcony at my neighbor's pre-Halloween party last night we could see an orange glow, with occasional pinpricks of direct orange light, above the mountain ridges to the east from the fires burning fully 50 miles away. By the 11 p.m. news, 200 homes were reported burned. It's up to 300 this afternoon; certainly the most destructive series of fires in SoCal in many years, recalling those in Laguna Hills and Calabasas/Malibu 10 years ago--almost 10 years to the day.
I happen to have been exchanging emails the past couple days with Gary Westfahl, occasional Locus Online contributor, who lives in Claremont, not far from Rancho Cucamonga. He reports today that his neighborhood was in fact evacuated last night at 2 a.m., that nothing has been damaged so far, but that they'll not be allowed to return to their homes until tomorrow.
The Santa Anas continue to gust today, bleaching the air except for the fuzzy smear of fire smoke on the southern horizon. Despite the anxiety they cause--more so to me since my move a couple months ago than before--I enjoy their effect. The hot dry clear air recalls to me the summers I spent as a teen on the high Mojave Desert, staying with relatives, reading a book a day, hiking the rocky hills, and writing those voluminous journals.
Leaving early tomorrow morning on a flight to DC; I intend to maintain daily posts to this blog, but we'll see how it goes.
UPDATE 10 p.m.: Alas, mundane circumstances interfered; I didn't manage to complete a New Books page today after all, much less edit the couple submissions that came in today. I should know better than to promise anything, even in the informal context of this blog. You get what you pay for. What did I just hear, 850 homes burned so far??! Next update from DC.