I was walking home from school in Eagle Rock on Tuesday, May 9 when I saw enormous orange flames blazing high in the hills, covered by a gray haze of smoke. I started to worry, because my crappy spatial reasoning/geography skills made me think that the fire was much closer to me than it was.
As soon as I got home, I went online to find out what was happening. Latimes.com had a continually updated blog with photos and breaking news briefs. I was shocked when I found out a major fire was engulfing the hills of Los Angeles, threatening such sites as the Griffith Observatory, the Greek Theatre, Griffith Park, the Hollywood sign, the L.A. Zoo, and the stunning hilly neighborhoods of Los Feliz.
What upset me most was that this abrupt entrance into fire season wasn’t even natural; At first I read that the fire’s cause was arson. My first thought was: what kind of sick person would destroy some of the most beautiful natural and man-made monuments in the city? I mean, who smokes a cigarette in dry, brushy areas during fire season? Or deliberately sets a fire that endangers Los Angeles? Ultimately, news reports have indicated that the initial suspect (who suffered severe burns), was no longer being questioned. According to today’s (Thursday) L.A. Times, the cause is under investigation.
So many thoughts ran through my mind while reading and watching the news about the destruction. I recalled my last concert at the Greek Theatre (Broken Social Scene last summer), wondering if I’d ever get the chance to go back. I flashed back to picnics in Griffith Park when I was little, even though I hadn’t been there in years. I was especially upset thinking about the things that might be destroyed that I’ve missed out on experiencing. Despite being a native Angeleno, I’ve never been to the observatory, even after the multi-million dollar renovation. I’ve never hiked up to the Hollywood sign. I couldn’t stop thinking, What if I never have the chance?
As the ash rained even as far as Eagle Rock, I thought about the changes the fire could bring. I couldn’t imagine Los Angeles without the acres of grass and hiking trails that make Griffith Park so special, or the lush greenery that sits atop the Greek Theatre. I didn’t want to be cheering at summer concerts at the Greek beneath a scorched landscape. I didn’t want to even think about Los Angeles suffering from this disaster.
By Thursday afternoon, the fire was reported as being 75 percent contained, with more than 817 acres burned. That’s 817 acres lost, and it will take years to grow back to a fraction of what it once was.