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Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Wildfires in the Media

The California wildfires are still burning. News reports are indicating that this is the biggest evacuation in California's history and the largest in the US since Hurricane Katrina. Nearly 1 million people have been evacuated. Over 1500 homes and structures have been destroyed. Many people lost everything - their homes, their pets, their memories, their possessions. At least five people have lost their lives. And the fires are still burning.

Now reports are coming in that witnesses claim to have seen a white man setting at least one fire before getting back into his car.

Maybe it is just the Human Condition which makes us search for someone to blame when situations we cannot control occur. Obviously these fires had some source - they started somehow, somewhere - but does that mean that someone started them? Fires start spontaneously all the time and much of the United States has been gripped by one of the worst droughts in nearly a century.

Many of these fires start spontaneously when decomposing matter is left in the sun. A chemical change occurs within these piles and they slowly begin to smoke. When this smoke reaches its way to the fresher dead material at the top - material that isn't wettened and corroded by the natural process of decomposition - and the smoke hits fresh air, it bursts into flame. This happens all the time in haystacks and could very well happen in the middle of all that forest and brush they have there.

Of course, this is nothing more than speculation and I am not qualified in any field; I'm just telling you what I know. And admonishing you as to the media's wild speculations.

This is obviously a huge story and our hearts and prayers go out to everyone who has been affected by this event, as well as their friends and families, but the media has made this more than just a "major" story - they haven't reported on anything else in three days! And now they are putting out nebulous stories about "white men" in "cars" who are jetting about the California countryside, "setting spot fires." By the time they admit that these stories are insubstantial and have absolutely no bearing on the matter, the damage will have been done.

And the US media, like the US government, like US corporations, never, ever take responsibility for their actions!

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