New York Times: The Classic Fires in California

New York Times: The classic brief account of the conditions that have set Southern California on fire comes from Joan Didion. In 1966 she described a region “devastated by the hot dry Santa Ana wind that comes down through the passes at 100 miles an hour and whines through the eucalyptus windbreaks and works on the nerves. October is the bad month for the wind, the month when breathing is difficult and the hills blaze up spontaneously.” The winds have not been that high this October, but the temperatures have, and the hills have blazed up, spontaneously and, in the case of at least three fires where arson is suspected, not so spontaneously. It’s easy to forget what wild edges the cities and subdivisions of Southern California have — until they start to burn.

Didion’s quote is from Slouching Towards Bethlehem, and has been well-blogged during the fire season. See Amy Langfield , Helene’s Journal, and textamerica’s Southern California wildfire blog, for starters.