In lightning-struck California, the smoke is now scarier than the pandemic
Hit first by COVID-19, then a heatwave, California is now battling another major health threat: wildfires.
Oakland, CaliforniaA wildfire pollution sky is the color of dirty porcelain and it glares, so your eyes hurt even before you look up. It’s the smell that really gets you, though. That and the sour scrape in your throat. From my house in Oakland we can’t quite see the nearest fires—we scan the horizon for them, obsessively, but so far this week we see fire only in the photos and videos coming at us nonstop. Fat black plumes. Burning fields. House walls, county roads, children’s play structures, all engulfed in flames.
The smell? Reminiscent of all the cigarettes ever smoked since the beginning of time, smoldering together semi-invisibly. “Semi” because even for those of us not imminently threatened by wildfire, there’s the