I don't often interrupt the proceedings here to discuss current events, but in recent days my thoughts have been with our neighbors and countrymen in Southern California, who have been dealing with catastrophic wildfires over the past six days. The figures are staggering: 772 square miles of populated land (half a million acres) have burned, fed (and unpredictably spread) by harsh, swirling Santa Ana winds. Seven persons lost their lives, along with many pets, wild animals, and livestock. More than 1,800 homes, many extremely valuable, have burned to the ground or are a total loss. More than 500,000 people had to be evacuated, most from San Diego County—the largest mass evacuation in the State's history. The final cost of the disaster will be measured in the billions of dollars. More than 13,000 firefighters were involved in fighting the fires, which are now largely, though not completely, under control.
Interestingly, many news services linked to selections of amateur photographs of the fires on flickr and other photo-sharing sites.
Our thoughts go out to those who have been dealing with the loss, disruption, and danger created by the fires.