When the Fire
Comes To You
I went to the movies the night the Cedar Fire started. I almost drove off the road when I turned a corner coming into what is affectionately known as the Valley of the Sun (that's what they call my town, Ramona, California) and saw what looked like a bright light show. That was around midnight.
I worked flames and embers until 3:00am and then decided to get some rest. I had just ended a full day's shift and regular week, before the movies, and was zonked. I woke up several times between 3 and 6am, worried, watching the yellow glow get brighter. Finally, I decided to stop worrying and start working the fire, again.
Getting my brush gear on, I looked east out my bedroom window and couldn't believe my eyes. A gray and black smoke cloud stretched from Ramona to El Cajon, CA, a distance of more than twenty miles!
I went to work and didn't stop for the next five days and nights. My coworkers helped tremendously by working assignments I couldn't get, John McCutchen, our assignment desk editor never left the desk, and photo editors poured over the Union-Tribune images day and night on what officials are calling Firestorm 2003.
© John Gastaldo
Staff Photographer, The San Diego Union-Tribune
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