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以下是我們JJ 小記者Shawn Lo 寫出他個人的火災經歴，從一個孩子的角度，細膩的觀察出天災的毀滅性。
By Shawn Lo
“Are we almost there?” I whined.
“Not quite, but almost” my mom responded with annoyance because I had been asking the same question over and over.
My family and I were continuing a road trip from Bend, Oregon, to San Francisco. The date was August 19, 2020, and California Wildfires have raged across the north. Our road trip took us to the wrong place at the wrong time. The potent odor had somehow managed to sneak into our car, reeking the air of ash and haze, yet we still drove on down the perilous road. Ochre black smog clouded everywhere around us and the windows of our car. The scenery was a writhing and eerie atmosphere where no sound was heard, with the exception of the scarlet inferno’s cackle as it devoured trees in a matter of minutes just on the right side of Interstate 80 between UC Davis and San Francisco.
I fumbled nervously with my hands as I watched the flying countryside in the car..
“Are we going to make it?” I asked. “What if we run out of gas and get stuck on the highway?”
“The fire is too far away, and it won’t be able to reach us,” my dad responded, reassuring us. “We have food, water, gas, and as long as we stay inside, we would be safe.”
“I guess we will be okay,” I thought reluctantly. However, given the unlikely chance of our car bursting into flames, I still pondered about the possibility that our car could abruptly stop, and we’d be stuck on the road with nowhere to stay and nowhere to go. I’ve never really deliberated over what to do in an emergency like such.
Like an ambulance siren, our phones gave out the strident cacophony of an amber alert.
Given that there was a seat belt over my chest, the sound had startled me quite much that I had almost fallen out of my seat.
“BEEP, BEEP!” the siren wailed once again.
The inferno looked as if a monster was stretching its hands to grasp a few cars and to drag them to the woods never to return. This monster was a beast whose embers could set cars into flames in a single moment.
As we continued to drive on in the chain of cars, it started to turn into heavy traffic, with bumpers side-by-side and honking ringing in the air around. The lines of vehicles were tangled chaotically with motors growling. “BEEP, BEEP!” my phone wailed. The continuous warnings of amber alerts made adrenaline go through me, yet I remained calm.
“I think we should find a hotel tonight,” my dad finally declared as the traffic made cars utterly stop.
“We are almost there.” my mom prompted. “If we just try to take a different route, we can make it to San Francisco.”
“I think we should go for it,” I suggested. “I don’t think the fire is too near us.”
Though I did quite fear the rising inferno, I didn’t want to be stuck wherever we were. I might have been more concerned about staying in the last room of an inn than the fire itself. Suddenly I hear sirens and the shouting of police officers. Cars were then turning to the nearest exit, and at that moment, I realized that the roads had closed.
“Everyone turns to the exit on the right.” police officers directed firmly. “This road leads straight into the fire.”
Some drivers retaliated with yelling and shouting despite the direct order of the officers.
“BEEP, BEEP!” the amber alert wailed once again. It seems that the warnings were as clear as ever, and it appeared the alerts became louder and the fires seemed closer.
“SCREECH” a car squealed as it cut in front of us, almost hitting us.
My dad steered his wheel quickly towards the exit as more cars soon followed, bumping each other like a game of pinball. He then proceeded to park the car in a nearby gas station.
“I think we should stay at a hotel.” my brother proposed.
I gagged at the thought of staying in a random motel inn at a gas station stop.
“That’s probably the best option,” my mom responded as she started scrolling through hotel rooms on her phone.
Looking at her screen, hotel rooms started to book in seconds in the area where we were. The big red words of Sold Out started to pop up on the Expedia website simultaneously.
After my mom had scrolled through almost every hotel near us, we could get one room with ONE queen-sized bed an hour away from where we were.
“Maybe when we get there, we can ask the front desk to switch to a different room with two beds.” my dad suggested.
After getting there, I could spot one family sleeping in the car parked at an IHOP next to our hotel.
Confronting the front desk in hopes of switching rooms, we were met with these exact words from the stern-looking older woman behind the counter.
“Ma’m, you just took the last room.”
“Thank god we were prepared and acted fast,” I thought to myself in relief.
My dad slept on the couch, while everyone else squeezed onto the bed horizontally (I slept on the very end). I could have kissed the floor of the Marriott Courtyard hotel. I couldn’t imagine sleeping in the parking lot of an IHOP.