We're far enough north of the fires in Santa Barbara and in Lompoc (I pastor in the latter, live in the former) so that we're in no danger (at least for now), but the skies are full of smoke from the fires burning across the region. It's hot and windy -- more so to the south of us.
This isn't anything new. Santa Ana winds blow every year and given the right conditions can unleash fire storms. This past summer we experienced the effects of the massive Zaca Fire here in the Santa Barbara area, but that fire was confined largely to the back country. But if that same fire had been alive during Santa Ana winds it could have blown right into Santa Barbara. That is the problem with this situation. Fires have started right in the middle of highly populated areas. Our thoughts and prayers are with those caught in the middle of what is best termed an inferno.
It would seem that the Federal Response is once again belated. It is now Tuesday, major resources won't get here perhaps until tomorrow, but the fires started Sunday. We need to find out how to act more quickly to such events. Earlier today I heard that about a half a million people have been evacuated, mostly in San Diego County. That's almost on a Katrina scale. Now the aftermath probably won't be Katrina like, but it is still massive.
I have already had conversation with Week of Compassion, the Disciples relief arm. They will likely be seeking to work ecumenically as the week goes on to provide resources, as they did with Katrina and other disasters. The call will be issued, may we respond with compassion.