Didion on LA

The largest fire in LA history is expected to keep burning through the weekend. It has burned more than 160,000 acres (250 square miles). Here’s Joan Didion on living in fire country:

Station Fire photo by Brittany Bagheri and American Red Cross
Station Fire photo by Brittany Bagheri and American Red Cross

People who live with fires think a great deal about what will happen “when,” as the phrase goes in the instruction leaflets, “the fire comes.” These leaflets, which are stuck up on refrigerator doors all over Los Angeles County, never say “if.” When the fire comes there will be no water pressure. The roof one watered all the night before will go dry in seconds. Plastic trash cans must be filled with water and wet gunny-sacks kept at hand, for smothering the sparks that blow ahead of the fire. The garden hoses must be connected and left where they can be seen. The cars must be placed in the driveway headed out. Whatever one wants most to save must be placed in the cars. The lights must be left on, so that the house can be seen in the smoke.

That’s from Didion’s essay “Fire Season.” You can get it here

One Reply to “Didion on LA”

  1. Thanks for sharing. I haven’t been given that pamplet, then again I’m not in the “urban wildlife interface” aka evacuation zone to have gotten one on my door like those who do live there did a few weeks ago.

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