Fire Proofing Memories
Last May my family nearly missed my graduate school graduation because of the Coco fires that erupted all over southern California, charring nearly 2,000 acres of land and taking with it 35 homes. Before that, however, as a freshman in college I was let out of school for a week due to poor air quality from the October fires that struck San Diego in 2007. Going back even further, four years before that, and in 2003, during my freshman year of high school, our school was again shut down for a week due to poor air quality, and because the fires were only miles away from potentially leveling our school. For awhile I joked at the pattern, thinking to myself I better not start or leave school again any time soon in case another fire gears up for a fight. Of course, I am not to blame, and neither is my education, but in all of these fires that I’ve experienced over the last ten or so years, I have learned one very important thing. Always be prepared.
Particularly with the 2007 fires, I remember a large amount of people not being nearly as prepared as they should have been. Working as a server at the time, I spent the better part of one of my day shifts, bagging chips and salsa, making to-go orders, and sending them with people who had evacuated to Qualcomm Stadium. We even had men and women, on the verge of heading out to fulfill their duty in their firefighter jobs. Many hadn’t thought to bring food with them, and with the evacuation site catering to hundreds of people, bread and peanut butter was all that on the menu. From kids coming in asking for grilled cheeses, and adults coming in for a much needed—and soothing—margarita, these families were struck down in their tracks, evacuating with only a moment’s notice to the only place they had.