I was just out in California where the fires were burning. The heat was intense, 104 degrees one day in Pasadena, and with the fires blazing in the foothills, the smoke could sting your eyes and the smell was everywhere, indoors and out.
At night we looked to the hills and it was as though there was a volcano on the ridge, huge flames leaping into the dark sky, the red glare lighting up the clouds of smoke.
It would be easy to compare such a natural disaster with hell. Over 200 square miles have been destroyed, tens of homes lost, thousands evacuated, 2500 firemen battling the firestorm like a small army, building new fire breaks to contain the blaze.
Two firefighters have been lost so far. I can’t imagine a harder job. The heat was intense enough without the fire. On Sunday at church there was a special round of prayers for the firefighters. They do heroic work.
What I have to remind myself when I see such devastation is that wild fires are a natural part of life in Southern California. It’s part of the ecology. This fire is particularly fierce because much of the area hasn’t burned in 60 to 80 years, and the old brush is like tinder. But the hills will turn green again with the winter rains—God willing, there won’t be floods. Some seeds even need the fire to germinate.
There is loss, but there will be new life. That’s also part of God’s ecology. I pray for the safety of the firefighters. I pray for those whose homes are threatened and all who have suffered loss. Meanwhile I hold on to the hope of the cooling breezes and the greening of the hills that will come. It always comes.
Read about one firefighter’s miraculous escape in Last Resort.
Rick Hamlin is the executive editor at GUIDEPOSTS.