Dramatic photographs and lurid headlines do little to accurately describe the Lockheed Fire now burning in the mountain slopes north and west of Santa Cruz. The area over which the fire has burned does indeed encompass 6,800 acres. But that doesn't mean the fire is that big, nor does it mean that everything within that acreage has been burned.
The fire consists of a moving front of largely low-lying flame that occasionally bursts dramatically into the treetops. These are the images that sell newspapers and advertising space. Though much is burned, much is not, leaving behind a forest that is considerably healthier than before the fire. Officials wax on about "resources" being lost, referring of course to resources that benefit humans, not the healthy forest, resources that pay the salaries of hard-working firefighters.
Interestingly, this fire is following the same path and covering the same footprint as the 1948 fire that started long before Lockheed cut down trees to build their, well, whatever it is, in the Santa Cruz Mountains. It will be interesting to learn if the proximity of the Lockheed facility had any causal relationship with the Lockheed Fire.
Life goes on. The fire spreads its nutrient ash liberally hereabouts, the forest is refreshed and renewed. We hope the critters are able to make their way through surrounding development to safety, so they can return when the ground has cooled.
Ain't Nature grand?