Fighting Fires

On Labor Day, Austin was blessed with its first day of non triple digit temperatures in more than 3 months. A chilling breeze blew through town forcing people to wear peculiar faces as they stepped outdoors. Smiles? Is that what those are? Are people actually happy to be outside? Yes. Yes they were.

Happiness was short-lived, however; along with cool air the breeze also brought hot fires. Lots and lots of devastating, torturous, life-destroying fires.

Today the smoke is infiltrating the Austin air and making the entire city smell eerily similar to a camp site. The sky is a faded grayish blue and every 30 minutes the radio interrupts, advising affected-area residents on whether or not they can return to their homes, announcing which school districts have closed for the week, and informing people on which churches are taking in evacuees. Some county websites have even started posting listings of houses and properties confirmed burned, and the news sites remind Austin residents to stay indoors and avoid breathing the smoky air when possible.

It’s odd being so close to a “danger zone.” To hear about the chaos on the news is one thing, but to see the smoke move slowly across the skyline is completely surreal and haunting. News at work trickles in slowly about someone’s cousin who’s house was burned, or so-and-so’s coworker who lost their dogs in the blaze. Dreadful.

Just when you think the weather in Texas is looking up, everything turns to hellfire and brimstone.