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There are many worse tragedies happening around the world today, but that doesn't make it any less sad for me to see the great park of Los Angeles on fire. I first saw a huge brown-white plume of smoke coming up from the forested hills north of my home yesterday afternoon. I checked on the internet (where I get nearly all my news) and found out that it was the park on fire, and what an awful fire! As of this morning, some 600 acres of forest have burned. With the nearly 100 degree temperatures, the winds, and the bone-dry conditions, the forest just exploded into flame and the fire has been very hard to contain.

Griffith Park was endowed by a wealthy man, Griffith J. Griffith, back around the turn of the last century. He also left money to have the Griffith Park Observatory built, apparently for no other reason than to give the average person a chance to share his own excitement at looking through a telescope. In the 1930's, the Observatory, the Greek Ampitheater, and various other landmarks were constructed in the 4000-acre park. Both the park and the Observatory have been used in innumerable movies and TV shows since the 20s, and the Observatory was just reopened this year after a massive renovation costing millions.

There have been many fires in the park, but this is the biggest in some 50 years. For a while it looked like the Los Angeles Zoo might have to be evacuated, which would have been an interesting problem. However, they've managed to keep the fire from invading the Zoo or any of the many other landmarks and institutions in the park - except for a beautiful terraced garden. Nobody's been hurt, and none of the residential communities around the park have been damaged. There are a lot of animals in the woods, though, and a lot of people go through it every day.

I wonder how long it will be before the signs of this fire are erased by new growth in the forest. The exceptional dryness and the exceptional heat, though, are not good indicators for the future. Los Angeles lives on the edge of nature's tolerance - using more water than the area can supply, and, despite efforts to reduce smog, contributing more than its share to the pollution that's pushing global warming along and aggravating the changes in rainfall and temperature patterns.

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A view of a tiny bit of the fire, and the Griffith Observatory, from the street near my apartment - 6:00 a.m. this morning.

April 2017

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