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:
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
What can local TV stations learn from Stationgate? Should they be held more accountable when it comes to informing the public about its city burning to the ground? Yes. Were viewers, bloggers, journalists, and tweeters overreacting for calling out the networks on their non-coverage of the impending doom? No.
TV and radio are old media. But, they’re still the first place that people turn when something happens. Hurricanes. Earthquakes. 9/11. There is a responsibility for stations to serve the citizens when they need it most. This includes weekends when your back porch is engulfed in a ring of fire. It is more important than any car chase, funeral procession, or award show after party interview about a $20,000 dress.
Local network executives, who today defended their “coverage” of the “brush fires” should be embarrassed. They should be ashamed. They should probably be fired. Next time, at the very least, throw up an on-screen ticker with evacuation information. That way you can still show your precious Hanna Montana.
As for defending your coverage in light of viewer outrage… How dare you. We are the reason you exist. We are the customer. And we are always, ALWAYS right.
I am reminded, however, of the great day I spent on top of Mount Wilson and driving the Angeles Crest Highway last Thanksgiving weekend. It was the last weekend before a portion of the Highway was to be closed for the winter. We took a gorgeous drive up the Highway, and took the side trip to the Mount Wilson Observatory for a picnic lunch with dizzying views. Tour the Highway and Mt. Wilson, after the jump
Thanks to Sean‘s twitter feed, I learned yesterday that the Pasadena Humane Society, who has taken in 200+ evacuated pets affected by the Station Fire, desperately needs donations of blankets, food, money, etc. I had a case of premium food that my picky dogs won’t touch that I took over to them. I always feel so helpless when a natural disaster is going on and was happy to make a helpful gesture, no matter how small it is in the grand scheme of things.
The Pasadena Humane Society is located at 361 S. Raymond Ave. The facility is closed to all adoptions at this time and are keeping the doors locked. However, you can knock on the door and they will graciously receive your items. While they are typically closed on Mondays, I confirmed that they are accepting donations today. If you have any questions, you can call 626-792-7151.