Text and photos for Bob Cut Mag.

I can smell the distinct odor of burnt rubber even through my respirator mask. The neighborhoods are strangely quiet, except for the occasional crow and the rustling of charred leaves. I’ve read about the magnitude of the damage, but I was still unprepared for what I saw.

It seems almost impossible to describe second hand what it is like to be surrounded by street after street of rubble where homes once stood.

Familiar shapes like garage doors crumpled onto themselves and the occasional mailbox help distinguish one former home from the next, but the landscape is very simply piles of crumbled homes as far as the eye can see.

The glowing orange sunset on the walls of remaining structures feels like a cruel reminder of the flames that recently engulfed the neighborhood. The bright orange sun seems so saturated compared to the pale gray ash covering everything around me. I can only imagine the horror that hundreds of families witnessed when their homes were lit up in orange that night.

The trees that should be covered in red, yellow, and orange leaves are dull browns, blacks, and grays. The destruction is nearly impossible to comprehend, and even more difficult to describe. I never believed that any harm would come to my paradise in Northern California. To my childhood.

I wipe away a thin layer of ash on my windshield as I pull away from the emptiness behind me.

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