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Here are words I hope never to have to say again: I have packed my emergency evacuation kit, and can be ready to get out of the house in ten minutes or less.

Updates since last night:

–The Grand Prix fire, which began north of Rancho Cucamonga, and the Old fire, near San Bernadino, have merged into one 35-mile wall of fire, after one or the other managed to jump an eight-lane freeway.

–50 homes in the northern part of Claremont (Padua Hills and Claraboya) have burned.

–That part of Claremont north of Baseline Road is under mandatory evacuation.

–The fire has thus far cost over $6 million to fight, not including the cost of the damage that it has done.

–Both the Grand Prix and the Old fires are believed to be the result of arson.

I’m not expecting to be evacuated, but I’m ready if I need to be. I’ve got the laptop, and will hope to keep you posted.

[UPDATE, 10.26.03, 1.15 pm: I adore my institution, and I do think we’re relatively safe here, but this strikes me as recklessly optimistic.]

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