California Gov. Jerry Brown has declared a state of emergency as firefighters in the state's north battling expanding wildfires, intensified by a prolonged drought, that have spread to tens of thousands of acres north and east of San Francisco, Capital Public Radio in Sacramento reports.A prior version of this story, now revised, described the fires as "near" San Francisco.
"[N]orth and east of San Francisco" is technically accurate, but the fires are hardly threatening the greater Bay Area because the Butte Fire is at least 100 miles from the metropolis and the Valley fire, in Lake and Napa counties, is at least 50 miles away. What, then, makes it helpful or appropriate to describe the location of the fire in this way? Will it somehow make people care more to think of this in relation to San Francisco than if they just think of this as a fire in the hinterlands of northern or central California--a rural phenomenon? which, I might add, it by and large is.
Or maybe we care more about the water supply for California's cities than for the rural residents who are losing their homes. And it was the San Francisco water supply that attracted attention to the fire in Yosemite and near it, as in the community of Groveland, a few years ago. Read commentary on Legal Ruralism here.
Here is another excerpt from that NPR story today, this one explicitly noting the "rural":
The Associated Press says: "One explosive blaze raced across several rural communities in northern California [Saturday], forcing thousands of people from their homes. Four firefighters suffered second-degree burns and are being treated in connection with a blaze that started about 100 miles north of San Francisco."New York Times coverage of the Valley Fire includes this lede:
The fire moved fast, faster than even veteran firefighters had seen. As it ripped down a hill toward Middletown, two hours north of San Francisco, some residents hardly had time to dress before they fled.(emphasis added).