The Fires This Time

Photo courtesy of Getty Images

A year after the Los Angeles Riots, a wave of wildfires driven by the Santa Ana winds rushed across wide swaths of suburbia. The fires were so severe that I could see the San Gabriel Valley foothills burning from Lincoln Heights. On the streets, hushed rumors were passed around regarding the source and cause of the fires. It was being said all over town (at least in the working class parts of town), that the fires were started by the looters and rioters of South Central as an answer to the critics who said they were stupid for “burning down their own neighborhoods.” I even remember reading in the Los Angeles Times about a guy in South Central who was picked up and questioned about the wildfires. I tried to follow up on the story months afterwards but as is all too common, the stories of class war fueled fires faded away into the dustbin of history.

I mention this because I heard the oddest thing at work today. One of my co-workers mentioned a very strange rumor regarding the current wave of Southern California wildfires. She said her mother’s boss (I think she works for a school and I think both belong to an Evangelist Christian church) said the fires were started by No on Prop 8 folks as revenge for the measure passing. I was flabbergasted! I really doubt the mother’s boss made this rumor up herself and I will bet anything it’s being passed around at the local store front churches.

Interesting questions emerge from these urban legends, have our local seasonal wildfires become the outlet for our urban fears and fantasies? Do the mysterious origins of these fires lend themselves to the projection of our collective dark thoughts?  Any other rumors out there?

7 thoughts on “The Fires This Time

  1. How about this rumor: the fires start because humans decided altered the natural environment, which cyclically burns the dead vegetation, and refuse to clear the dead vegetation, creating a situation where, coupled with a drought and dry, hot air, vegetation lights on fire.

    Sheesus, people want to blame nature on humans too much, just make it easier for them cope with the fires. “Oh, it was started by a disgruntled so-and-so” when sometimes it just starts because of a lack of good care for the land.

  2. Who makes up this bullshit? I mean, seriously. Who even believes it? You have to be a seriously disturbed person to even entertain something like this for a second. Crazy.

  3. Ah Yes, Chisme Time! I Love It!
    Here’s 2 Hot Rumors I heard:

    (1) The Cal Wildfires are GOD’s wrath in response to supporters of Prop 8! (see link below)

    (2) The fires were deliberately started by one or more rich homeowners in that area due to the mortgage/default crisis and torching was a good way to get out from under & collect the insurance.

    BTW- to the last 2 commenters. I don’t know where you all are living but I’m surprised at your sense of shock! crazy shit like this is a so usual that it’s almost like a part of everyday life. Just read the headlines. Maybe some of us are just more jaded to it. I actually enjoy reading about it and observing all the reactions. I’m entertained by it. The more outrageous the better. Just know that most sane people know how to filter this stuff and take it for what it’s worth.

  4. I heard that some firefighter started them because work was slow and they were afraid to be laid off. this sounds crazy to me but thats what i heard. The insurance collection sound more reasonable to me.

  5. The Prop 8 rumor doesn’t even make sense as a rumor. Opponents to Prop. 8 had scheduled huge demonstrations that weekend. The wildfires essentially overshadowed their efforts and the demonstrations got less media attention as a result.

    Personally, I think what happens is one fire is usually started by human error, but accidently (or by dry lightning). Then it inspires arsonists to set another one, or two. Once the first fire proves that the conditions are ripe for huge wildfires, I think it’s hard for wacko arsonists to resist doing their wacko thang.

    The Montecito blaze was started by college students hanging out and making a bonfire at a hangout in the worst possible spot–with Santa Ana winds, to boot. It looks like an accident.

    The Sylmar fire, which burned all those mobile homes, is being investigated as possible arson. Don’t know about the one in Chino Hills/OC, etc.

    Firefighters, especially volunteers or reserve ones, have been known to start fires. Some of L.A.’s most deadly fires–not just wildfires–have been started by such firefighters.

    And for some affluent homeowners who want to expand their homes, but who are prevented to by local zoning rules, a fire can allow them to start anew, and release them from some of these restrictions. I’m not saying homeowners are starting these fires, just pointing out that losing your home to a fire is one of the worst things possible for most people, but not for everyone.

  6. slightly off topic, but firefighters are to fires what police are to violence. their job descriptions say “keep these things from hurting people” and most are pretty conscientious about honoring that. but if you were one of the f@!#ed up weirdos who love fire and violence, what career would you choose? google “firefighter arson” for more info.

    back on topic, what will god’s wrath on connecticut be? did massachusetts already get their’s? oh wait, the fires in california will force all the insurance companies in connecticut to go bankrupt! that god’s a clever one when it comes to hating gays (insert moral orel sytle wink here).

    btw, my toilet’s backed up. did anyone see any no on 8 folks disguised as plumbers near my house? i think they might have fed my dog antifreeze too, because she’s just not as chipper today as usual.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *