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Los Angeles Freeways and Fires Waiting for Ignition

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About five days a week, I pass by the brown and dry reminders of January 2007. During that month, there was a cold snap – sudden freezing temperatures that caused local gardeners and landscapers grief as many established plantings died from shock.

Almost a year later, and during a record-breaking drought, those reminders remain. I see tall trees and bushes dry as kindling at the side of the freeways. They were brown even during the dry spring, during the summer, and even now. They stick out sorely against the other plantings that are green because, with California’s mild winters, much of the landscaping at the side of highways is evergreen.

If you haven’t been to Los Angeles, you might not guess that every now and then there will be a car fire at the side of the freeway. Sometimes it’s just a small, ordinary passenger car. Other times, it’s a flatbed truck or other industrial means of transporting goods. On the route I take, there have been at least three fires at the side of the freeway in the last two to three months.

It was, after all, just a few months ago that a pile up turned a certain tunnel North of Los Angeles County into an inferno. That Oct. 7, 2007 inferno at the Newhall Pass should have sent a warning to all Los Angelenos.

Sure, just yesterday, Nov. 30, we had rain, but less than an inch (in some places only 1/3 of an inch) won’t alleviate the drought, and soon enough the landscape will be dry again. Malibu has already been hit twice by firestorms.

This situation of leaving dead plants for almost a year, just as the lack of real rules and regulations to enforce water conservation, is a disaster waiting to happen – disasters that are predictable if only people were interested in listening to real news instead of gossip.

With all the fear mongering the media participates in — predicting disasters from the bird flu to the dog flu — where are these journalists when it really counts?

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