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The Big Little Fire That Never Was

by Frank Gormlie 08.16.2012 Editor's Picks

Returning from my much-ballyhooed drive out to El Centro on Tuesday – August 14th – I saw a wild fire that concerned me, but what I found out about it the next day disturbed me even more.

Driving out of downtown El Centro and hitting the freeway, I saw what looked like a tan plume of dust near Ocotillo – the tiny town on the edge of the desert. Oh, great, I thought, I might have to drive through a desert dust storm.

But as my rental car hurtled west on the Kumeyaay Highway with the a.c. nearly at full-blast, I could see that the dust storm was really smoke coming out of an area south of I-8 up in the mountains – not that near Ocotillo at all.

As I approached the mountains and began the climb up the steep incline, it was obvious that the brown-gray-white smoke was a wild fire up in the very rugged mountains, the eastern side of the terrain – south of the freeway – .

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