The Thomas Fire: It's Still Burning (A Poem)

Updated on January 3, 2018
Mark Tulin profile image

Mark Tulin is an author, poet, and short story writer who lives in Southern California. He writes about a variety of topics.


The Thomas Fire

As of this writing, the Thomas Fire (called the Thomas fire because it started near Thomas Aquinas College) is the most massive wildfire in California history, decimating close to 300,000 acres of land, creating havoc up and down the Central Coast of California. The fire first started in a brush in Santa Paula. Unfortunately, nature created perfect conditions for this vast wildfire: dry weather, no rain and fierce Santa Ana winds blowing from the south.

Every day there were evacuations and reports of the fires spreading. When the wind blew, the burning embers traveled to new dry brush and kept the Thomas fire burning. It was one of the more treacherous fires to deal with by firefighters because the direction of the winds was unpredictable and it became virtually impossible to navigate through the hills where many of the wildfires were burning.

Thousands left their homes. Closed roads, schools, and stores. The police directed traffic as drivers frantically exited from the burning towns and cities. The firefighters from California and surrounding Western states joined to fight the blaze with bulldozers, planes, and helicopters trying to douse the fires and contain its vicious spread.

For more on this devastating fire, read Nick Walsh's article in the Santa Barbara Independent, Thomas Fire: How it Grew and Grew and Grew.

In the following poem, It's Still Burning, I speak to the fire's irrepressible quality and my fear that it would never stop burning.

It's Still Burning

It's still burning
flames climbing higher
temperatures again rising
winds keep swirling
up in smoke go all our belongings
nightmares, people crying

It's still burning
fiery and unforgiving
blackening clouds mushrooming
vulnerable lives that it smothers
shooting sparks and falling ash
fear spreading through valleys and mountaintops

It's still burning
thousands of acres go up in mutilated counties
trees lit up like sticks of matches
flames glow, red hot with fire
be consumed or evacuate
don't be surprised if it's too late

It's still burning
glowing embers fluttering like lightning bugs
the sun's face covered in smoke
people scurry like ants from their holes
Santa Ana winds caught us red-handed
from Santa Paula to the hills of Santa Barbara

It's still burning
no clean air to breathe
beauty turned into a petrified forest
firetruck alarms and emergency alerts
planes dropping gallons of water
a community on life support

It's still burning
as the evacuees flee
as the people cling to their dreams
the heart of the village survives
heroes willing to risk their lives
havoc will soon return to paradise.

A Poem About the Thomas Fire


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    • Mark Tulin profile imageAUTHOR

      Mark Tulin 

      2 years ago from Santa Barbara, California

      Thank you very much , Tim.

    • Tim Truzy info4u profile image

      Tim Truzy 

      2 years ago from U.S.A.

      Mark, you are a skilled and talented poet. I could almost experience the destruction and loss your lines convey.

      Powerful. Insightful. Heart-felt.

      My thoughts and prayers go up for all of my fellow human beings in such a catastrophe. Thank you again.

    • Mark Tulin profile imageAUTHOR

      Mark Tulin 

      2 years ago from Santa Barbara, California

      Thanks for reading and listening, Marlene.

    • Mark Tulin profile imageAUTHOR

      Mark Tulin 

      2 years ago from Santa Barbara, California

      My sentiments exactly, Robin

    • MarleneB profile image

      Marlene Bertrand 

      2 years ago from USA

      I enjoyed reading your poem and I'm glad I watched the video, too. Both versions of your poem are truly enjoyable.

    • RobinReenters profile image

      Robin Carretti 

      2 years ago from Hightstown

      Really so sad my heart goes out to everyone my husband's brother lives in LA our universe is changing too many nightmares we need to shine more on helping others through these difficult moments

    • Mark Tulin profile imageAUTHOR

      Mark Tulin 

      2 years ago from Santa Barbara, California

      The last report said it's still burning in Ojai, but it's pretty well contained now. All those who were evacuated are now able to go back to their homes, or what's left of them. Thanks for your concern.

    • snakeslane profile image

      Verlie Burroughs 

      2 years ago from Canada

      Mark, your poem and film clip are so full of tension and fear. I've been following this fire, but lost track over the holiday season. Is it still burning?


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