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September 8, 2020

Yesterday morning I opened my backdoor to find ash covering everything – patio tables, the outdoor umbrella, shoes, and plant tarps protecting fragile plants from the sun’s hot three-digit rays.

The day before, as Louie and I drove home from East Los Angeles, we could see two huge plumes of smoke rising from the mountains miles away – that appeared to be close to Sierra Madre where we live.

Sure enough, the “Bobcat Fire” in the Angeles National Forest has already burned over 4,871 acres. My friend in Whittier texted me to see if we were prepared to evacuate as she had heard about the warnings for the foothill area. We had not. I called the local police department and learned that orders for our city were not yet mandated, but that we should be on alert. The neighboring cities of Monrovia and Duarte are directly in danger and are under evacuation orders as Santa Ana winds are expected today, which will cause devastating spread of the fires. We’ll just have to stay on alert. Full containment of this fire is not expected until October 15. I don’t know what caused this fire.

Earlier in the week, however, a horrific 7,000-plus acre fire around the desert town of Yucaipa was caused by a pyrotechnic malfunction at a gender reveal party.

What the heck is a gender reveal party? Do all the guests reveal their sex (as several people I asked assumed)? No, it’s a take on a baby shower where the gender of the baby is, what else – revealed to close family and friends. Unfortunately, fires have resulted from several gender reveal parties when planners thought it would be a good idea to add “explosive” entertainment at outdoor parties – in the middle of dry brush. One in Arizona resulted in a 47,000-acre wildfire in 2008 – and $8 million in restitution.

Now, the regretful blogger who “popularized” gender reveal parties is urging people via Facebook to “Stop having these stupid parties…No one cares but you.”

She had hosted her own (lower-keyed) gender reveal party and shared it on her blog. The idea took off -- like wildfire.

I’m grateful for experiencing pregnancy at a time when the cheap umbrella stroller was the only popular one at the time -- and the gender of babies was announced in less public fashion.

It’s a 50-50 chance whether an accidental fire can be extinguished before escalating to its worst potential.

Indeed, the weekend of break-out fires didn’t end there. As I drove up my street towards home, I noticed a plume of smoke near the top of my hill. Surely, I thought, the local fire department knows about this. I almost turned into the driveway at home, but instead I drove up to the fire. I saw no one except for one man running to the fire. No fire engines. I was tempted to assume that someone by now had called for help. But I grabbed my cell phone and placed a call anyway to the police department. “Do you know there’s a fire on Auburn and Carter?” I asked the dispatcher. I can see flames moving quickly. She did not know about it. Within seconds, I heard sirens coming from the fire department down the street, followed by police cars and an ambulance. The fire – in the backyard of a house – was put out quickly. The branches of a tall pine tree were scorched, the picket fence burned, and a green trash bin was half-melted. Thankfully, no structures had been affected.

Fires are the last thing we need on top of Covid.

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1 Comment

Barbara Place
Barbara Place
Sep 15, 2020

What a nightmare, Athena! Thank goodness you called in. Times are so tough for CA, Washington, and Oregon. Times are just tough. Stay safe!

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