Monday night, December 4, 2017, ended with a power outage, which is fairly common in my fairly dilapidated 'hood. It was about a quarter to ten, and I was bedding down anyway, so I thought, "It will be back on tomorrow, probably.", and proceeded to crash out. I was in blissful slumber until about 12:45 AM, when I was jolted awake by a neighbor, who was banging on my door and yelling at the top of his lungs, "FIRE!!! FIRE!!! FIRE!!! GET OUT!!! WE HAVE TO EVACUATE!!!" I walked out of my front door and saw the hillside less than a quarter-mile away completely engulfed in flames. "Holy fuck, this is bad!", thought I.
Still half-asleep and at least a little bit startled, I walked out to look at the fire as everyone else on the street proceeded to scamper. Moments later, I was joined by another neighbor, who, after guzzling his 18th cocktail of the evening and inhaling from not one, but two marijuana vaporizers, said "Dude, this is fucked up." The understatement of the year. The fire seemed to be getting exponentially bigger every few minutes, and I finally decided to haul ass after a police car pulled up and announced over its PA that the area was under mandatory evacuation, not taking very much with me.
While driving up to a friend's house that I thought would be a safe haven, I noticed that the fire was much more massive than I thought, as the ridgeline parallel to the highway was burning intensely for many miles. Originally going there to seek shelter, I realized that my friend's house would also be under threat very soon. Sure enough - within the hour, we were loading his vehicles with his valuables. The massive fire was encircling the entire area, almost as if by design. About 5 AM, after listening to some on-the-spot reports, I decided to reconnoiter my 'hood despite the roadblocks (I know more than a few ways around them), and much to my delight and relief, saw that the fire which was threatening that whole part of town had been put out, or more accurately, burned itself out. Meanwhile, the fire grew to being within 100 yards of my friend’s house before finally being checked. We were both very fortunate, as many others fared much worse.
There are few things more terrifying on this earth than fire, especially huge fires that are burning out of control on all four sides of you. I knew a woman who survived a structure fire about 20 years ago, and she’s completely traumatized by it to this day. On 9/11/2001, many people trapped in the WTC buildings chose to leap to their deaths rather than be consumed by flames. The Islamic State, as if their beheading videos weren’t bad enough, also showed them dousing their victims with some kind of fuel and burning them to death. To partially quote Washington, fire, like government, is a dangerous servant and a fearful master.