I’d prefer an ordinary afternoon…

by Eszter Hargittai on June 26, 2007

Comparing the hills during and after the fire

Just this morning I was contemplating how horrible it must be for the people who suddenly lost their homes in the fire around Lake Tahoe. By the afternoon I was watching firefighters from my office window battle flames on Stanford’s hills.

I was sitting at my desk already unable to work having just received word about the death of Peter Marris, Professor Emeritus of Urban Planning at UCLA, dear husband of Dolores Hayden who was a fellow Fellow at CASBS this year. The two of them had to end their year at the Center early, because Peter was sick, but I don’t think any of us expected things to escalate so quickly.

Unable to concentrate on work, I turned around to look at the beautiful view from my office. I spotted some big red flames. Soon I realized that a large area around it was completely black with smoke and flames on the periphery. Eventually sirens and helicopters appeared, as did firefighters. Some of the smoke was now white not just black, apparently a good sign. But not all the black smoke disappeared and an hour later there was still much activity. I went to an event and by the time I got back to my office, another hillside was completely black (see the difference in the left area of the two photos above).

How quickly things can change.

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Crooked Timber » » How quickly fire spreads
07.05.07 at 10:26 pm



Gene O'Grady 06.26.07 at 4:18 am

What’s the road in the picture?


eszter 06.26.07 at 4:28 am

I don’t know if it has a name. It’s just one of these roads (mostly for walking) in the hills off of Junipero Serra (although fenced off so you can’t just use it any time).


Alan Kellogg 06.26.07 at 6:12 am

And that’s a small fire. lately the fire season in California has started earlier than it usually does. So far here in San Diego we’ve had two small ones, and it’s only June. As the Summer goes on there will be more fires, and larger ones.

We could use some antelopes and gazelles to help keep grass and brush down.


jacob 06.26.07 at 11:35 am

I hadn’t heard about Peter Maris. That’s quite sad. I never knew him, but he was an important person for Yale undergrads interested in urban studies–people who were mostly unsupported by the college, since there was no major.


Eszter 06.26.07 at 1:17 pm

Jacob, thanks for those thoughts, nice to know that people appreciated Peter’s contributions. By the way, he passed away yesterday so not surprising that you wouldn’t have heard.


Jessica Schessler 06.26.07 at 4:20 pm

Wow… I had no idea such things were happening currently. Though, I rarely turn the television on to watch the news, and all of the news sites are flooded with pictures of Paris Hilton. I’ll send some rain your way!

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