San Diego Stories by Salvatore Filippone

June 16, 2005

the burning of san diego

I awoke at 10:30 am to near darkness. Dim light spilled into my studio through the slits in the blinds. Confused, I got out of bed, a little hung over from the night before. The throbbing headache was the payback for breaking my vow not to ever drink ‘like that’ again. From my bathroom, I noticed the red-tinge to the light coming through the window. Had there been a solar eclipse? Usually they announce that stuff in advance. I decided to take look outside. Pulling open my door, I stuck my head out and looked up, seeing for the first time a cloud of smoke so enormous that my mouth opened and caught a few bits of ash that were raining down out of the sky. The only words I could utter were “Holy Shit.”

It was a surreal scene. The smoke cloud cut a wide swath in the sky, completely dividing the city into light and dark. From my porch, I saw Downtown, which was still enjoying a nice, sunny morning. A little over a mile north, the rest of the city, starting from Middletown, as far up to La Jolla, was blanketed in a heavy red darkness. Ash was neatly piling up in the gutter next to my porch. The odd thing was that there was no smell of smoke. I knew something was burning, and from the looks of it was big. I called my folks to find out if there was a fire in Mission Hills. My mother had been watching the news, and told me that the fire had been burning since last night, up near Ramona, but had rapidly spread down to Lakeside and Santee.

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