Keeping The Faith In Hollywood!

Keeping The Faith In Hollywood!

Saturday, August 29, 2009

California Wildfires

August 29th, 2009
There are three new forest fires burning in Southern California and it is a sad reminder that this is wildfire country. This reminds me of my first forest fire experience shortly after moving to L.A. in 2007.

The Riverside County wildfire, the biggest of over ten area fires, started on Saturday October 20th, 2007 with a roar! Aided by the gusting strength of the Santa Anna winds it blazed through the chaparral and scrub bush of the nearby mountains. The governor called it a state emergency then the President declared it a national emergency, sending armed forces and national guard troops to help the firefighters. The whole area buzzed with activity as numerous helicopters flew over head, as they deployed to the site of the fire.

I had no previous personal experience with fires but I remember watching the Griffith Park fire on the news in May 2007, as it burned 600 acres of the park. For those who don't know, Griffith Park is near the L.A. Zoo and besides being a lovely park with all sorts of recreation, it's a popular location for TV, film etc.(the TV show, Monk, films there all the time). The Griffith Observatory is an historic site within Griffith park and it is also a popular location for many TV, film ( Paula Abdul's Rush, Rush video is filmed there as was it's inspiration, Rebel Without A Cause). Believe it or not, I moved to that same area in L.A. a mere 3 months later(lol). No, I'm not crazy, I just choose to believe God. So after lots of prayer and God's guidance about staying "fire-free" in California, I moved out here. At that time, my best and long-time Christian friend told me to believe God about my safety as I move to California and that also after a forest fire it takes awhile before another fire can happen in the area again (she's so wise).

Still, I stayed glued to the TV for any breaking news on how the Riverside County fire fight was going. Thankfully, where I live is many many miles north of the fire so I wasn't in any immediate danger. However, the air was thick and blackened with smoke. I mean it was totally not breathable and this was made worse by the 100 degree weather. Mindful of asthma and allergies, I followed the health experts advice and stayed in doors with the A/C. I ventured out only to the pool and even then I had to be very careful.

By day 5, I had decided that forest fires were just plain scary. The fires were still raging and I was praying constantly for them to go away already. I received worried calls from my friends and family and I reassured them that I was okay even when I was beginning to feel that I was not. Day by day, the skies were increasingly dark and gloomy with the acrid smell of smoke worsening. Over days, the atmosphere was so dark that eventually my mood started to feel dark too.

Amazingly, I even saw burnt embers as they drifted all those miles north then fell on us like dirty snowflakes. At night, the skies lit up with an eerie amber glow and at times I could have sworn I heard crackling sounds. All these elements combined and accounted, strangely enough, for one of the most beautiful sunsets I've ever seen (if I wasn't feeling too scared or too guilty to enjoy it). I slept fretfully on night 6, then I had to use my faith and believe the fire would end.

The fires finally ended early October 27the 2007 after raging through southern California and ravishing over 500,000 acres and destroying 1,500 homes. The TV news was full of tragic stories of people who lost their homes and even some pets. Unfortunatly, there were three human lives lost but many in California publicly thanked God for sparing their lives. Many church services were shown on TV and the Salvation Army representatives were everywhere. Despite the sad circumstances, I am always happy when I see Californians openly acknowledging and thanking God.

That morning, it even rained a little as if God was washing away the embers and the bad memories. I was thrilled that I would be finally able to go out and enjoy the day so I got dressed to go grocery shopping to get some fresh produce. As I stepped outside, I took a deep breath of air, I enjoyed its refreshing smell and I thanked God! In 2008, fire season began again with a whole new slate of fires affecting lives and properties. Now, it's 2009 and we're at it again. Please, continue to pray for us.

For more info on:
Southern California fires go to www.
The Griffith Park fire:
Learn more about Griffith Observatory at
See films shot on location at Griffith Observatory at

See Paula Abdul's Rush, Rush video

Update: 8/29/09 10:00 p.m.
It's night out and I just looked outside and saw the mountains ablaze in the distance from the LaCanada Flintridge fire. Let me tell you that it was a very startling sight and my heart started to pound! I know I had smelled smoke but I thought it was from the BBQ grills as everyone was out today in the intense heat trying to wring the last out of the summer. I turned on the news and it said that they have issued evacuation orders for that area.

I first learned about LaCanada Flintridge earlier this year from the wonderful and whimsical float they entered in this year's Rose Bowl Parade in January. The float organizers encouraged me to visit the area and to enter their contest for float design in 2010. Well, I did the latter but my design was not selected. Still, I thought I had all the time in the world to do the former as, by all reports, LaCanada Flintridge is a nice area to live as well as to visit. Now, since I can actually see the flames glowing in the distance, I have started my emergency preparedness. This is way closer than I like to have a forest fire. My prayers go to the residents who live in the area of all the fires especially as the weather is not helping. Please, keep praying for them!

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