Friday, December 15, 2017

Fire and Ice, But Mostly Hell Fire

Melinda Palacio

The Thomas Fire rages. Photo by Mike Eliason

My neighbors in Santa Barbara left town four days ago. The city has been raining ash for over a week. The culprit, The Thomas Fire (or firestorm), is the largest wildfire of the year and the fourth-largest in the state's history. The news is not quite the end of the year bang  was hoping for. I had a different kind of firestorm and shake-up in mind, one that would happen at the White House, and not in California. Before voluntary evacuations were issued for my neighborhood, Steve and I had already shoved off to ring in the holidays in New Orleans. I also had a reading at the Latter Library in New Orleans, where I had a chance to preview some of the new poems in my upcoming poetry book, Bird Forgiveness, out in 2018 by 3 Taos Press. A funny moment was when the M.C. introduced me as having a book out soon from three tacos press. I had to defend my press, my poetry, and love for tacos in one breath. 
            A week ago, New Orleans experienced a weekend so cold it snowed briefly. I was in awe watching the snowflakes fall. I must admit the charm of the ice falling soon turned into sheer torture as I don't do well in cold weather and my broken, metal-leaden leg started talking to me and complaining as well. The same day as the miraculous and sudden Southern snow storm, the Thomas Fire broke out and started swallowing all in its path in the California cities of Santa Paula and Ventura. The fire, which began on December 4, continues its almost two-week rage and now threatens Carpinteria, Montecito, and Santa Barbara, the lovely coast town between the ocean and mountains, known as paradise, where I am lucky to call home. With fires in the San Fernando Valley and San Diego, this monstrous fire seems impossible to get a hold of. I worry about not having a home to come home to and about all the damage already done to the land and people of this drought-ridden and dry state. How I wish I could send some of Louisiana's rain to California. To add insult to injury, there are people preying on the fire victims. I would have simply ignored the warnings on social media about false charities trying to wring money out of people who are being assisted by firefighters. However, I received a call from someone with a 323 area code phone number. This person, I don't recall his name, made a pitch for collecting money for equipment used by firefighters.  A legitimate organization to donate to is the Santa Barbara Firefighters Alliance. News I heard just today about the fire makes these charlatans seem insignificant.
            Nothing prepares you for the news of a fatality due to the fire. Hearing that one of the firefighters, fire apparatus engineer Cory Iverson, 32, lost his life battling the fire is heartbreaking, to say the least. My deepest condolences to Cory Iverson's family. I can only imagine the state of shock the San Diego firefighter's family must be in. As of yesterday, Thursday, December 14, the Thomas fire is 60 miles long, 40 miles wide and 35 percent contained. Prayers for all 8,000 firefighters battling the Thomas fire, prayers for wind cooperation and no more fatalities. 


No comments: