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August 19, 2022

A search for fresh air | About Town

The other day I saw someone had dressed up the surfer statue on the westside of Santa Cruz as a firefighter. I imagine it’s some form of acknowledgement of the hard work firefighters are doing in battling our wild land blazes.

Maybe desperation has hit home. My neighbor gave me this idea to help deal with the smoke: strap a filter (I used one that goes with our heater) to the front of our household fan and hope the contraption filters some smoke and ash out of the inside of our home. I doubt it but it makes us feel like we’re doing something instead of just keeping the windows and doors shut.

If you dare, try looking up and type in your city. Then brace yourself. There’s a circle graph that is updated hourly as to the air quality index in your area. At noon Santa Cruz read 161, which falls into the red zone, meaning unhealthy. Watsonville was around the same. They say it will be that way tomorrow as well.

Smoke mainly is reaching us, the last few days, from Oregon where around a half of million people were evacuated due to fires. Meanwhile the CZU August Lightning Complex Fire that hit our area mountain communities is now 91% contained after burning 86,509 acres. So far 925 homes have been destroyed. Going by home values around here that probably means at least $925 million of home value gone up in smoke. And that does not include personal property, vehicles, landscaping and on and on.

President Trump, during a visit to Sacramento to talk in front of the media about the fires, seemed to make a joke out of it. When Gov. Newsom confronted him with the idea of global warming leading to the fires, Trump said he disagrees and went on to suggest raking leaves instead. When another official said that if we were to look at science on this matter, Trump shrugged it off and said, “I don’t think science knows.” He then went on to say that “It’ll start getting cooler. You just watch.” And then he laughed out loud.

Maybe it will start getting cooler when he climbs back into his jet with the AC on full blast. It reminds me of his sagely advice when he told Americans that coronavirus would simply go away, like a miracle. Well, it hasn’t. It’s contributed to 195,000 deaths in the US with 6.59 million cases. Some miracle!

Tarmo Hannula
Tarmo Hannula has been the lead photographer with The Pajaronian newspaper in Watsonville since 1997. He also reports on a wide range of topics, including police, fire, environment, schools, the arts and events. A fifth generation Californian, Tarmo was born in the Mother Lode of the Sierra (Columbia) and has lived in Santa Cruz County since the late 1970s. He earned a BA from UC Santa Cruz and has traveled to 33 countries.


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