Perhaps some of you have seen in the news about the Station Fire burning near Los Angeles. My husband and I moved to North Carolina from that area two years ago, which is where I'm from. The Station Fire isn't burning directly near where we used to live or where my parents live, though they've smelled smoke at their house, they've said. A friend of mine who lives in one of the threatened areas went to stay with friends over the weekend due to smoke; she said there's smoke and ash everywhere, similar to a fire we had several years ago while I was there. (I remember ash all around my house—it's weird.)
The saddest thing about reading about the fire is I recognize a lot of the places they mention. The San Gabriel Mountains were my home; I always call them "my mountains" whenever I see them on TV. (You'll see them, too, if you ever watch the Rose Bowl or Rose Parade on January 1st.) I've been hiking in many of the areas that are now burning. I've seen plenty of blackened hillsides in my life but it will be strange to see the extent of this fire next time I'm there (whenever that may be). I've also been to Mt. Wilson and seen the telescopes at the Mt. Wilson Observatory there. (I think I even remember going there for a school field trip, probably in elementary school...) Mt. Wilson has a Webcam; it usually updates every few minutes and is very popular with those who know of its existence. I checked it a couple days ago and could see the plume of smoke in the distance. When I checked it today, however, I found it was down: Apparently a backfire burned through cables supplying all telephone and Internet service to the Observatory. If you look at the Webcam today you'll see a static picture from yesterday (located on another server)—the last update the camera had before going down. It's a smoke-filled sight.