A new, massive wildfire is now raging through Southern California, threatening communities in Simi Valley and forcing the evacuation of numerous sites in southern California, including the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library.
The so-called Easy Fire “exploded just after 6 a.m. in the area of the 118 Freeway and Madera Road. By 10 a.m., it had grown to 1,300 acres and was threatening about 7,000 homes, spurred on amid extreme red flag conditions and powerful Santa Ana winds,” a local CBS affiliate reported Wednesday.
The fire is not contained and the winds are blowing at between 40 and 50 miles per hour, threatening homes and businesses nearby, including the Library and a number of horse farms.
What appeared to be a controlled, defensive burn line was visible from the windows of the Library’s Air Force One display hangar Wednesday morning. Later photos showed the same defensive burn line extinguished.
— Wally Skalij (@WallySkalij) October 30, 2019
“Firefighters were at the facility prepared to provide structure protection. The flames were being held back by an aggressive ground and aerial attack on the ridges beyond Simi’s modern residential estates,” the LA Times reported. “Helicopters repeatedly dropped loads of water behind the library in 60mph winds, turning the flames on the ridge 300ft below into smoke. Amid wind gusts strong enough to knock a person off balance, two super-scooper planes dipped down behind the library before unleashing such a volume of water it created its own rainbow.”
The fires, spreading across central and southern California, have threatened a number of landmarks in recent days, from Napa Valley wineries to LeBron James’s Los Angeles mansion; the Reagan Library is, by no means, the only structure in harm’s way. But it may be the only instance of a threatened structure, so far, where certain social media denizens are rooting for the fire.
— CNN (@CNN) October 30, 2019
If the fire does destroy the Reagan Library, think Evangelicals and Republicans will get it that God is angry with them for Trump, kids in cages, treason, etc.? (Nah – they'll just blame Obama or Hillary or The Libs…)
— Langdon (@StillLangdon) October 30, 2019
Presidential library of man that removed Jimmy Carter's solar panels from the White House roof and battled against environmental regulations is now threatened by climate change.
— Eric McClung (@ericmcclung) October 30, 2019
it would be pretty on-brand for 2019 for the reagan presidential library to burn down to climate change-exacerbated wildfire at a time when republicans have completely abandoned uncle ron
— the norms haunter (@cd_hooks) October 30, 2019
Even the concerned seemed unable to muster much, well, concern.
Awful. Lots of precious, irreplaceable things there. I'm not comforted by the comeuppance to the memory of a man who warded off environmentalism with the daft fallacy that "the economic prosperity of our people is a fundamental part of our environment." https://t.co/uSfUbvdKt3
— Rick Perlstein (@rickperlstein) October 30, 2019
Most of the critics blamed “climate change” for the fires, a chorus that seems to have echoed throughout the left flank of the Democratic party, even though California is, perhaps, the most environmentally woke state, with some of the strictest environmental regulations of any state. The assumption, of course, is that a warming planet is creating stronger, more destructive wildfires.
But, in California, that may not be the case. There are slightly warmer summers and slightly drier conditions in California than there were in the 1970s, but the high winds are annual, and the increased damage appears to be from brush overgrowth — a side effect of those same environmental regulations that social media users now demand be enacted nationally. Once a fire starts, its fed by material that should have been removed, but wasn’t, to protect habitats and maintain green space.
Ronald Reagan’s mortal sin, though, was removing the solar panels from the White House, relics of President Jimmy Carter’s failed attempts to force the adoption of alternative energies during the fuel crisis. To put it mildly, there’s a fairly dubious connection between such a move and today’s wildfires, just as there’s a fairly dubious connection between legislators’ proposed environmental solutions, like the “Green New Deal” and actual abatement of climate change.
For now, though, California is focused on putting out the three major fires currently raging across parts of the state. As of Wednesday afternoon, more than 26 million people in California and Arizona were under “extreme red flag” warnings, several million are without power, and tens of thousands have been evacuated from fire zones.