Thursday, May 7, 2009


The annual Southern California ritual of watching helplessly while our communities are burned to the ground has begun early this year. Santa Barbara is getting the first great firestorm of the season.

Fire (n) - One of the oldest words in the English language, fyr sounded and meant exactly the same thing a thousand years ago as fire does now.

Blaze (n) - From the Old English word for a torch flame.

Inferno (n) - An English import from Italian that comes from the Latin word infernus meaning hell.

Firestorm (n) - Has a technical definition describing a fire so intense it creates its own wind system constantly feeding fresh oxygen into the fire. Think a naturally occurring blowtorch. The more general definition is of a raging, unstoppable fire that is a force of nature like a hurricane. The word dates to World War II where it described the firebombing of cities like Dresden.

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