California’s dreaded fire season is once again upon us, but this year it feels more foreboding

A home in Vacaville, CA is reduced to ashes, Wednesday morning, Aug. 19, 2020.
A home in Vacaville, CA is reduced to ashes, Wednesday morning, Aug. 19, 2020.
A home in Vacaville, California, is reduced to ashes, Wednesday morning, August 19, 2020. Photo: Karl Mondon/MediaNews Group/The Mercury News/Getty Images

Here we are again. The Bay is choked with smoke. San Francisco, viewed from the east, is entirely concealed by it, smothered by a charcoal bog. The Berkeley hills are too. Beyond — everywhere — our world wavers under a hazy drifting skein, eerie as a haunted bridal veil. The horizon is grainy tarnished film. The air, of course, sags with the stubborn smell of campfire, thick with particulates. All around we’re enclosed by foreboding.

One surveils all this while their throat clots and their eyes burn, both from the smoke and from the sadness: Our state, once again, is on fire. In a ring around the region, residents are once again evacuating their homes, and first-responders are once again trundling with unbelievable courage toward tsunamis of red and black snarl. Here on the water, evidence of what our neighbors are losing accumulates on the sills of our windows. …

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“DAD! Good news. While you were on Twitter, I unspooled the entire roll of toilet paper.”

There’s a theory roundly feared by astrophysicists, NASA scientists, and government leaders alike called the Kessler Syndrome. …

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An unidentified person contemplates the view of the smoke-filled skies in San Francisco on the morning of September 9, 2020. Photo: Ray Chavez/MediaNews Group/The Mercury News via Getty Images

The worst fire season in history could usher in a new mental health crisis

Weeks ago, when the fires started, Californians responded with stoicism. We mourned the fire season’s early arrival, bemoaned the prematurely compromised air, grieved for our neighbors whose homes had been lost, and wondered aloud just how the hell 2020 could get any damn worse… but we muddled on. Deep down, we knew it was only the beginning.

Last week, overnight, the beginning got worse. …


Dan Moore

Writer (SFGate, Human Parts, The Bold Italic, Forge) Editor in Chief: PS I Love You

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