Los Angeles County has been on fire since some time yesterday or the day before. Yesterday the news of wildfires seemed unimportant as the fires were contained to a region near Santa Barbara which, since I've never been there, seems especially far away. By this morning, the fires had spread to areas I've heard of, have even been to. But still, from what I could tell from the radio coverage, these people knew what they were in for--lived in areas prone to dryness and fire when the yearly Santa Ana winds come through. Tonight, however, I can smell the fire through the open windows in my studio apartment here in Koreatown. In this small space, the smell seeps in and, with nowhere to circulate to, grows sour--like a mix of fire and barbeque and pot smoke. I take a walk outside, figuring I might see the streets ablaze. But people are out per usual. It's Saturday night and no one seems to notice that the air is heavy and smells like ash. Young twenty somethings are out at Le Cercle Super Club, taking advantage of the warm weather by wearing next to nothing. I can smell the cigarette smoke as I walk by and I wonder if they realize they could ignite a Koreatown fire with the next butt tossed carelessly to the sidewalk. I'm scared that, if I fall asleep, I might wake to flames outside my window. I contemplate loading my important documents and belongings--organized for just such an occasion--into the car in case we're encouraged to evacuate. But one can't let these things get to her if she's to live in Los Angeles. If it's not a fire, it's an earthquake. If it's not an earthquake, it's a corrupt police force and pricey plastic surgeons. Those of us who come to live here, come knowing full well what the risks are. And so, knowing that I can probably pack my car in 15 minutes flat with my few posessions and pieces of art and nostalgia, I resolve to calm down, maybe have a glass of wine to fall asleep, and hope the winds have calmed by morning.
For full fire coverage, visit The LA Times