Smoke, fire, fear


Saturday morning Bruce and I sat under the cover of our back deck and watched God’s weather channel. Lightning zigged and zagged. Thunder rocked and rolled. We smelled the rain before we heard its ping on the roof overhead. The rain swapped places with hail that pelted the earth until it was petered out.

A series of skinny lightning fingers electrified the hillsides all over our north west Igo/Ono area. They pierced. They poked. They wriggled. They squiggled. They disappeared and reappeared.

Bruce pointed off in the distance where lightning last touched down.

Smoke! And more smoke!

He called Cal Fire and spoke to a dispatcher who sounded as if Bruce’s report was the last thing he wanted to hear. Apparently, many others had made similar calls about different fires.

Saturday night before we went to bed we stood on our deck in the dark and stared at the shimmery, orange glow of fires dotted along the back side of Whiskeytown National Recreational Area.

Sunday we awoke to air that smelled like the inside of a smoker and looked like dirty dishwater.

The sun set invisibly Sunday under a blanket of dirty air as solid as winter Tule fog.

Our thoughts turn to those who live in the fire areas.

Then it occurs to me that the smoke is so dense that even if a fire were near, it would be on top of us before we saw it.

We go to bed wondering what morning will bring . . .

. . . and may God bless the firefighters.

Doni Chamberlain

Independent online journalist Doni Chamberlain founded A News Cafe in 2007 with her son, Joe Domke. Chamberlain holds a Bachelor's Degree in journalism from CSU, Chico. She's an award-winning newspaper opinion columnist, feature and food writer recognized by the Associated Press, the California Newspaper Publishers Association and E.W. Scripps. She's been featured and quoted in The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, L.A. Times, Slate. Bloomberg News and on CNN, KQED and KPFA. She lives in Redding, California.

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