This is the question that has been on my mind since the first hour of the fire.
All day and all night, neighbors stood out on the deck watching it, and as it grew later, we realized it wasn’t going to stop that night, and some of us even wondered if we’d have to evacuate, even though we were a mile away. I turned on the air conditioner, which didn’t filter the thick smoke at all. It was like breathing through a sweater, and I wondered if I was getting enough oxygen.
The LA Times had a pretty good blog up about it, that was really the only up to date news anywhere, as the fire raged on. I even added a couple comments to their sparsely attended ranks, and in one of them I asked for news on the animals. The Times soon blogged:
“Almost all animals are hard wired to find where there is a safe place is to go,” said Marty Oâ€™Toole, fire education and prevention specialist for the National Park Service. “By and large, birds are going to fly away, mammals are going to run away and reptiles are going to bury themselves.”
There, doesn’t that make you feel better? No?
Bambi’s mother still on your mind?
Mine, too. So I called about 15 people on the city payrolls, looking for an answer. I quoted some of them below, and I believe Albert and Kristin’s reports were probably close to the truth, as they were in the park the day after the fire, in places where animals were likely to be. On the other hand, I talked with several park rangers who had seen very few dead animals. A man whose job in Animal Services is to pick up the poor creatures left a sad little message on my answering machine saying that it was so hot there wouldn’t be any bodies and they would instantly be consumed. The Times quoted one fireman who airlifted water to the scene saying that the fire was so intense that the water turned to steam before it ever hit the ground.
So did the reptiles go deep enough into the dry parched ground to survive? How far do you think the rabbits and squirrels got? How many birds flew in the middle of the night? (birds have terrible night vision, much worse than we do.)
So here are some numbers from some still secret Animal Services person who gave an early report to cb’s office:
- 14 deer
died in the fire. Kind of an odd lineup. Did the coyotes get trapped in a den? Where did they come up with that number of birds? I’m on it…