Sunday, September 25, 2022
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The Day the Devil Came to Willits

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A road disappears into the blood-red smoke of the Oak Fire [Picture by Eric Lee Burch]

Tuesday, September 8th, 2020. The Oak Fire, north of Willits. Want to know what the definition of Hell actually is? It’s when it turns pitch black at 3 p.m. and becomes a deep blood red by 6. It’s when it snows ash. It’s when you can’t remove the taste of smoke from your lips, no matter how hard you try. It’s when you fear for what the ‘morrow brings.

However, if it wasn’t for this inversion layer, the Oak Fire might have been much more dangerous than it was.

Thank God for small favors.


Eric Lee Burch is an eighth-generation Mendocino County resident who spent 15 years as a photojournalist and graphic designer for The Willits News, Lake County Record-Bee and The Ukiah Daily Journal. His work has also appeared in the Willits Nickel & Dime, The Mendocino Travelers Guide and 101 Things to do in Mendocino County. Though Burch lives a somewhat quieter life these days, he continues to write and shoot photos; capturing the essence of Mendocino County and California’s north coast. Check out his Substack if you would like to read more of his musings.

4 COMMENTS

  1. No Hell is the economy we are living in today. What your referring to is called smoke and ash from improperly managed forests that are burning. Because we can no LONGER run cattle amd log these lands.

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