My heart breaks for my home state of California. I hope everyone survives the terrible firestorms.

When my parents (now long gone) retired, they moved from Oakland to rural north Marin County; literally the other side of their street was Sonoma County. They wanted to have some of that California lifestyle we hear so much about. My mother could buy fresh lamb from a ranch and a bottle of world-class wine from a winery all in about 30 minutes from her door; dad could go down to Tomales Bay and pick up a bucket of oysters in less than 10 minutes. For me and my sibs to visit them took us through Santa Rosa (and we could pick up some vegetables from the Farmers Market) on the way. We would sit on the deck, have a memorable dinner and watch the sun set over the Pacific Ocean.

It didn’t suck is what I am saying.

The drive was more-or-less pleasant, and over the years you could see how these counties had changed from agrarian to suburban.

A decade long drought ensured the wildfire disaster we see now inevitable. The stands of trees that were used as wind breaks from the old ranch property lines were stressed and even though there was a lot of rain last year, they were still dry tinder. The invasive eucalyptus trees even in good years are essentially torches waiting to be lit on fire. The Oakland Hills fire of the early ’90s was a case study of the danger of those trees.

What I’m trying to get at is that there are many factors in a disaster like these fires, and most (but not all) are man made. From climate change (the drought), to the trees, even to the crowded suburban landscape (they are going to find many, many more victims: those cul-de-sac layouts are death traps), all of it seems contributed. I’m not blaming the victims, I’m listing some of the components.

When the rebuilding starts, I hope that there is a real attempt to not make the same mistakes. Fix the zoning laws (get rid of the cul-de-sacs), remove the eucalyptus (ban them, and yes California counties can do that), open up more green space as firebreaks.

Like hurricanes are to Florida, wildfires are to California (literally, there is a wildfire season). We need to be smarter and learn from these moments.

This entry was posted in Disasters, global climate change. Bookmark the permalink.

16 Responses to California

  1. vonBeavis says:

    As a fellow Californian, I, too, feel pain for my native state. I grew up seeing fires ringing my town, which is a helluvalot bigger now, like 10 times bigger. I will be watching for you to post a reliable recovery fund site. Meanwhile, I’m going to visit the Red Cross to make an initial contribution from my duty station in Europe.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. tommyspoon says:

    I’m not going to blame the victims, but I am going to blame the developers and the legislators they were in cohoots with. They provided more tinder to a destructive and predictable natural occurrence. How is this different from people who insist on building homes in an historic flood area? At some point common sense has to take over, right? Otherwise, people will continue to lose homes and lives.


    • osirisopto says:

      No one designs for disasters. The construction industry designs for maximized profit and nothing else.

      Fire codes, construction codes, etc. are in place for one reason and one reason only, just like our labor laws. They’re there because people died stuffing another nickel into a rich bastards pocket.

      Liked by 1 person

    • tengrain says:

      ‘Spoon, growing up in the Bay Area with grandparents in SoCal, we always said that California has two seasons: wildfire and mudslides. The wildfires are driven by the hot winds that come out of the Central Valley (the so-called Santa Ana winds in the south and the Diablo winds in the north), and unless someone can change the laws of physics, those things are here to stay.

      But we can and must do better. And yes, building in a flood plane is the epitome of stupid.



      Liked by 1 person

  3. Laura says:

    Santa Rosa’s my hometown. Friends have lost homes and all their stuff. Dad’s in Windsor and the fire is across the highway.
    A friend in Kenwood is among the missing.
    Shits fucked up and bullshit as a wise one frequently states.


    • tommyspoon says:

      I’m so sorry to hear that. I hope your friend turns up safe and sound.

      Liked by 1 person

    • tengrain says:

      Oh, Laura, I’m so sorry. I read that the cell towers all blasted so mobile phones are essentially useless, so let’s hope that’s why you have not heard from your friends.




    • vonBeavis says:

      Was on the phone last night. My wife’s elderly uncle lost his home, two other family members may have lost theirs–no contact yet. Everyone is not yet accounted for.


    • MDavis says:

      Well spoken. Sorry to learn you are one of those touched by this disaster. Self care. Do it.
      (We were considering a trip to CA this weekend; the first step was checking the wildfire map. Sheesh. Shit’s indeed fucked up and bullshit)


  4. skinnydennis says:

    Not many Eucs in the Santa Rosa fire, or in the hills east where the fire roared thru from Calistoga. Mosty oak and pine. With 60mph winds driving the fire, it didn’t matter much what there was in the way of fuel. But you’re right about the east bay fire, and there’s way too many eucs around here. 2 left in my back yard out of about a dozen when we moved here (west Petaluma country) 25+ years ago. Lots of euc stands between 101 and the coast. Thankfully they’re isolated clumps of them, and not miles of continuous stands like Berkeley and Oakland hills were.


  5. moeman says:

    Awesome post TG. I worked many summers in Cupertino and visited the areas nearly a 100 times. I feel Californian everyday. All the best to everyone.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I moved north from the Bay Area to Southern Oregon after living in Mountain View and Half Moon Bay. We love California, and miss it. It’s the place where we felt we truly belonged. I can only cringe and hope for the best for everyone, but their pain reverberates through my bones.


  7. In SoCal we claimed four seasons: fire, flood, mudslide, earthquake.

    I live in Georgia now but will always be a Californian.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Nora Daly says:

    Weeping. Many racing friends live/work up there and at least one has lost her home.


Comments are closed.