Near me in Southern California there is one of the most sought-after locations to live in the world. The climate is great, the sun is shining, the landscape is beautiful, the neighbourhoods aesthetic, the opportunities plenty, the infrastructure rich, the people attractive, the food exceptional.

That’s why these wildfires are so heartbreaking. 1200 homes so far have been destroyed and over 400 square miles burned up like kindling, with no end in sight. Governor Schwarzeneggar has issued a state of emergency and troops have been called to help the firefighting effort.

As Sasha Abramsky suggests:

“Perhaps the last time a major American city was so at risk of being gutted by fire was when Chicago burned to the ground in 1871. Already, according to the mayor of San Diego, a thousand homes in the county have been destroyed. By the time you read this, hundreds more will likely have been reduced to ash.”

At this time of writing, USA Today reports that at least half a million people have been evacuated in San Diego County alone.

In this post I reported pondering philosophy in the mountains a couple of weekends ago, without identifying the mountains. I stayed in a cabin near Lake Arrowhead, which is now on fire too as I write:

“A two-front fire destroyed at least 160 homes in the Lake Arrowhead area, the same mountain resort community where hundreds of homes were lost four years earlier.”

While Californians are dealing with this infinitely better than Louisianans did Hurricane Katrina, this remains a huge challenge. The property alone is worth countless billions of dollars: let’s hope fervently that weather conditions improve and that firefighting efforts are successful.

Satellite images are available here.