My wife, trembling, waits by the car while I approach our house’s burnt-out shell. Police tape twirls, cat’s cradle-like, from tangled shrub and fencing. Inside, wielding a flashlight, I scan ceilings and walls that bulge like old, diseased bones. Ash and debris eddy everywhere.
“Well?” my wife murmurs, tearful. But I’ve returned empty-handed. We drive back down the canyon, the alarms of abandoned vehicles wailing as we pass.
At dawn in our motel I turn on the radio: hundreds rescued, scores still missing or dead. My wife, gasping, points out the window: the mountain appears aflame again. But it’s only sunrise.