We drove a very long 9 hours yesterday from the Bay Area to Newport Beach, via SLO to pick up our daughter, and had to travel through Ventura County and Thousand Oaks which have just suffered not one, but two devastating events: a gun massacre killing 12 people and then a fire the next day, costing lives.
My phone kept buzzing with alerts of “fast-moving fires” and we had to detour off 101 for a while, which was closed. When we got back on 101, we could see fires raging in the hills around us. We passed some sort of staging area, blocked off by police, and saw three sirens fly past us in the other direction. The fires in the hills were incredibly close and even at 10 PM were lighting up the skies with red smoke. As we passed, I also had Paradise, CA, in my mind — a northern California city that was just completely destroyed by fire. Mostly, I thought about the people affected by these tragedies.
I wept over the lives we’ve lost just this week — both to fires and gun violence, due to the inability of this country to face either climate change or gun violence. I found myself looking for those marked vehicles — police cars, fire trucks, and ambulances — just in case. I thought about the hospital staffs who’ve taken care of the wounded and the dead. Where would we be without them?
So this morning, I am so grateful for our first responders, who put themselves in harm’s way to save others. The helpers. Thank you.
* The photograph comes from the following website: https://www.firehouse.com/operations-training/wildland/news/21031537/ventura-county-ca-wildfires-erupt-after-thousand-oaks-bar-shooting We were moving too fast and it was too dark to get a shot of what we saw, but this looks exactly like it — and in fact is a picture of the fires in Ventura County.