Pacific Swell | Southern California environment news and trends

Fire, the Revelator

If Hurricane Katrina were a superhero, in LA right now, she'd be The Quantifier. This Station Fire is as big a disaster as Katrina... That's one way to do it. Or, as I heard today on Patt Morrison's show, about evacuating animals: We learned our lesson during Katrina... If that last one were true, that would be great. But this isn't a quiz on one chapter. Maybe there's more than one lesson to learn.

Covering the Station Fire is a natural transition from thinking about Katrinaversary, which passed on Saturday, the day after I finished reporting on problems with hydraulic pumps at canals in New Orleans' hurricane protection system. Naturally, we're paying attention to the environmental hazard in our backyard. Maybe a little unnaturally, we don't think about the risk it presents in the same terms we think about other environmental hazards in other places. Because this year, I got the sense from news coverage or the lack thereof that we're "over" hurricane Katrina. And now, again, we're suffering loss from an environmental hazard - just in a different state.

We've got plenty of fires in southern California. Maybe this one will spark something like a passionate debate about how we can appreciate the risks from them. And maybe THAT will spark another debate about what responsibility government, insurance, the public, bear for environmental risks somewhere else.

And if it does, I hope Patt and Larry lead the discussion. I also hope southern Californians are part of it. Because I believe YOU have something to say.

Fire could be, in the Superhero Hall of Fame, The Revelator. If it's not, Gillian Welch is right, and Time will be. The former seems to give you more power, though.