As we head into waning days of summer, I hope everyone was able to make that getaway you’ve waited for before we turn to football, some late trout action, the peak of the fall salmon run and the upcoming hunting seasons in California. The kids are going back -and in many cases already in- school for the fall. So the three-day weekend seems to come at the perfect time. In Northern California, this would seem like a ideal opportunity to escape the Bay Area traffic (especially with the Bay Bridge closure that is sure to make a mess of the San Mateo and Golden Gate Bridges), or the Valley heat, and head to the Sierra for some R and R. But the Yosemite Rim Fire has carried such tragic consequences and turned this beautiful area that normally is such a wonderful place to be at its many lakes, rivers, streams and parks, has been a smoky mess. Labor Day weekend seems a little hollow in California.
Watching news reports on this fire brought back, for me anyway, memories of 1991. I was in college, at Fresno State, and visited a friend who attended Cal-Berkeley. That Saturday we attended the Cal-Washington football game and then hit the town that night. The next day, I rode a BART train back across San Francisco Bay to visit a friend, and when the train rolled outside I could start to see smoky air filing up throughout the Bay Area. The “Oakland Firestorm” was just beginning to burn out of control. By the time firefighters had the blaze under control, there were 25 deaths and 4,000 homes or apartment units were destroyed. It was a sobering wakeup call of how much damage can fire do. The state has seen plenty of other devastating blazes before and since then. And this one, in terms of area burned, is one of the worst.
But all we can do is carry on. Be safe on the crowded roads.