by Natalia P '10 by Santiago P '11

Gone With The Fire

Most people try to do all they can to have the type of life they want to lead. They try to build a family and offer them the very best that they can get their hands on. They work hard, save money, and buy the house of their dreams. They try to protect their love ones from any harm, and show them that the world is a place which you mold into what you want it to be. Most people buy cars, and fancy televisions. They get expensive clothing and all types of technology articles.  They buy whole living rooms and re-do their kitchens every once in a while. Most people don’t think of the natural world around them, but rather of the monetary world that humans have created. Most people don’t expect to have their whole lives work burnt to the ground. Most people don’t have a backup plan in case a disaster was to strike them. Most people are like the people in California. They might have been stricken by great fires before, but they would never come to see that it would take away everything that they had ever owned. Everything was gone with the wind.
The recent California wildfires took everyone by surprise, mainly because no one was expecting them even thought they have happened before. They took down and over 500,000 acres,  about 40 times larger than our Manhattan; starting from Santa Barbara County to the U.S.–Mexico border. The way and speed that the fires spread was incredible. They covered seven different counties and completely destroyed everything that was in its path. The fire began on October 20th, 2007, and lasted until November 6th, 2007. Over those days, there were a total of 23 fires. There were several factors that initiated the fires. Some of them were created by man, but the rest were natural. The natural reasons were that there was a drought in Southern California, hot weather, and unusually strong winds with gusts reaching up to 85 mph in Santa Ana (140 km/h). All of these things made it the perfect scenario for a fire. The fires were taking place in a very dry area, with fast winds and high temperatures; it truly was the perfect scenario for a fire. There were also several fires that included the actions of men. The most popular scenario is the one about the 10 year-old boy who was playing with matches, and somehow started a fire that covered most of the Los Angeles County; burnt 21 homes and injured 3. There has been nothing established against him or his family, but there is a possibility of charges being filed. However, he would have to be tried as a juvenile, and the punishment would not be extremely severe or follow him into his adulthood. However, there are those who think that he should response to his actions in all its extent. “If you accidentally set a massive fire that destroys homes, causes residents to flee for their lives and requires millions of dollars in resources to extinguish, then you damn well need to pay the piper,” wrote Dave Bossert on his online newspaper, The West Ranch Beacon.
The other fires were started by fallen power lines, an overturned tractor-truck, and another possible way was “reported as having been deliberately caused, a suspect being shot and killed at the scene by state authorities.” ( There are several other fires whose causes are still being investigated, as there are no stable reasons behind them.
The damages of the 23 fires have been devastating.  The several evacuations that were enforced, rather than suggested, displaced about 900,000 people. They were sent to several places, including the Qualcomm Stadium, the Mira Mesa High School, and the Naval Base. The Navy was also affected by the fires, being that the Naval Base is in San Diego. All of those marines in the Navel Base San Diego barracks who were not important were moved to nearby vessels so that the Base could accommodate refugees.  There was a power outage that disabled the Southwest Power Link, a power line that runs from Arizona to San Diego. “The power outage also affected the areas of Ojai, Oxnard, Simi Valley, Santa Clarita, Thousand Oaks, Agoura Hills, Rialto, Fontana, San Bernardino, Rancho Cucamonga, Mira Loma, Hesperia, Corona, Bloomington, Irvine, Calimesa and Rubidoux. This outage also caused 230 people to be without power in Malibu.” (
For fires that did so much harm, much helped was needed. “Over 6,000 firemen worked to fight the blazes; they were aided by units of the United States Armed Forces, United States National Guard, and almost 3,000 prisoners convicted of non-violent crimes.” ( There were also 60 firefighters from the Mexican cities of Tijuana and Tecate helping out side by side with the Californian firefighters.
As you can see, the fires of California took everyone by surprise. They destroyed the homes of thousands of people, who were forced to change all the comforts they had been used to living with for what ever the state, the country would give them, all within a matter of minutes. We can all learn that nothing is forever. In the blink of an eye, everything we work for in our lives could be snatched from our very own finger tips, with us being able to do nothing but stand back and watch. How do you think that the people who were told to evacuate their homes now felt, they had no time choose what they would take, and what they would leave and never see again? Our lives are nothing stable, and we do nothing but think of tomorrow, always living tomorrow today. If we would think of living now, of enjoying the moment, the present time, we would not be so lost, so taken aback if the case was that our material world suddenly disappeared. Even though we should plan for a better future, we should live our lives today, be satisfied with what we have, because if we give too much value to superficial things, we will weep when those are taken away, even if we, and those we love, are fine and with us. We should stop thinking of tomorrow; today is the tomorrow we worried about yesterday. We have to live today, so that every day can be valued individually, and we are not waiting for something better to happen. Rather, we should make today the better thing that could happen to us.


By Mr. Lakhaney

TOK Teacher

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