Behold, the unrepentant rage of a wildfire

Though I’m not breathing ash this week — mercifully, I’m up in San Francisco — I can still smell the charred air that seems to characterize Los Angeles in the fall. And I can’t read about this latest, and staggeringly vast, inferno without being reminded of my own drive into the black clouds and the burning skies. Back in 2003, I spent a night in a Red Cross shelter chronicling the stories of the San Bernardino County evacuees of that so-called “Old fire,” though most of them could hardly grasp the devastation they’d just survived. I didn’t sleep. My lungs ached from breathing so much soot. And I’ll never forget how wounded the sky looked. It felt as if the world was coming to an end. My heart goes out to all the folks fighting this one. (Photo by Los Angeles Times photographer Robert Gauthier)