The city burning is Los Angeles’s deepest image of itself.
November 7, 2019 8:21 AM   Subscribe

Why did no one warn the housekeepers about the Getty fire? First, zoom out from the flames. Show the neighborhood where wealthy homeowners, having fled themselves, have inexplicably forgotten to warn their domestic workers not to come in. Pan over the hill that those workers, largely Latina women, must climb from the bus stop.
posted by FirstMateKate (16 comments total) 24 users marked this as a favorite
 
this is just horrifying
posted by supermedusa at 8:31 AM on November 7 [3 favorites]


Frank Shyong's followup on Twitter: Getting lots of email blaming housekeepers for not speaking English and saying it's not the homeowner's responsibility to notify their domestic workers.
posted by toastyk at 8:43 AM on November 7 [8 favorites]


Perhaps because the last time that hill caught on fire, everyone still went to work.

I mentioned this in one of the other posts where everyone seems to think this year is worse than usual for fires in Los Angeles (it truly isn't), but the threshold for mandatory evacuations seems to be much, much lower than it has in the past. I've sat in my father's backyard and been so close to the flames the heat became uncomfortable, and not been evacuated. However, a couple weeks ago my sister ended up being forced to leave because of fire miles away she couldn't even see (besides the smoke). In fact, because that was our childhood home, I remember being there when at least a half dozen closer fires occurred, and we never left. A LACoFD helicopter accidentally dumped a bunch of water on our and our neighbors' houses once, through, which was exciting.

Anyway, if they had interviewed all the house keepers, I wonder how many would response with "people had to leave for just THAT???"
posted by sideshow at 9:09 AM on November 7 [2 favorites]


Good! Let's not be blase about fires that can change direction at the wind's whim and trap and kill people! And for fuck's sake, these people obviously value the HUMAN BEINGS that work for them so little as to completely forget they exist.
posted by agregoli at 9:14 AM on November 7 [22 favorites]


Forged In Fire: California’S lessons for the Green New Deal

Speaking of new deals, one of the reasons there are no big broad housekeeper or domestic servant unions is cause FDR removed them from union building in order to get the racist Dixiecrats on board with the plan.
posted by The Whelk at 9:15 AM on November 7 [22 favorites]


I'd also be surprised if at least some of the workers knew about the evacuations but knew perfectly well that their employers might still fire them if did not show up.

Out here on the northeast seaboard the issue is more often snow than fire, but I've seen a number of cases of workers being told "technically, a state of emergency is only a recommendation and if you want to keep your job you'll find a way to make it in," while every news outlet was urging everyone to stay off the roads for anything but the most dire emergency. Why should fire evacuations be any different? Staying in a hotel is one thing, but coming home to a messy house or untrimmed lawn? Where do you suppose the homeowners' priorities are?
posted by Karmakaze at 9:22 AM on November 7 [42 favorites]


Good! Let's not be blase about fires that can change direction at the wind's whim and trap and kill people! And for fuck's sake, these people obviously value the HUMAN BEINGS that work for them so little as to completely forget they exist.M

Until they're suitably worried about working people burning the houses of the rich on their own for political reasons, this will continue to be the case.
posted by ryanshepard at 9:26 AM on November 7 [8 favorites]


Out here on the northeast seaboard the issue is more often snow than fire, but I've seen a number of cases of workers being told "technically, a state of emergency is only a recommendation and if you want to keep your job you'll find a way to make it in,"

This is basically the policy of the major corporation I work for, and we regularly feature stories internally of people fighting hurricanes, tornadoes, fires, etc by theselves to restore service that really isn't even necessary because we have equipment that we can fly in to substitute for displaced equipment after the danger has subsided.
posted by The_Vegetables at 9:32 AM on November 7 [8 favorites]


Out here on the northeast seaboard the issue is more often snow than fire, but I've seen a number of cases of workers being told "technically, a state of emergency is only a recommendation and if you want to keep your job you'll find a way to make it in," while every news outlet was urging everyone to stay off the roads for anything but the most dire emergency.

same with hurricanes in the south, and i remember hearing about people who lived outside mandatory evac counties but worked inside and physically could not get in because of road closures being disciplined.
posted by gaybobbie at 11:03 AM on November 7 [5 favorites]


Anyone who's ever worked a service job can tell you there are a whole lot of people out there who don't see the people serving them as human beings.
posted by Brain Sturgeon at 11:11 AM on November 7 [30 favorites]


I'm curious what it means when there's a mandatory evacuation. How would anyone know unless there were someone or something actually blocking entrance to the area. There aren't many roads going up to those hills, they'd be easily blocked. If nothing else, the homes would be ripe for looting if it were evacuated yet anyone could still freely access.
posted by 2N2222 at 11:33 AM on November 7


Part of this issue is that the roads actually were blocked and a lot of the service staff were still allowed to enter by the LAPD. Per the article they have not been forthcoming with an explanation which is not shocking at all.
posted by feloniousmonk at 12:23 PM on November 7 [10 favorites]


Yeah, we know. Lots of shitty people out there that consider service work to be the providence of subhuman humans. Fucking sick.
posted by agregoli at 12:26 PM on November 7 [4 favorites]


Why did no one warn the housekeepers about the Getty fire?

oh we know why
posted by poffin boffin at 1:05 PM on November 7 [6 favorites]


For those of you who have not been part of a mandatory wildfire evacuation, let me tell you it is chaos. Once the command center issues the order, it takes time to dispatch police to set up roadblocks. Meanwhile, people will continue going into danger zones unaware.

I got the order at 9:29 a.m. last November 8th. Many others received no warning. Our county lets you sign up for mobile alerts at more than one address, but that wouldn't help housekeepers going to their Wednesday place on a Monday. And of course, immigrant housekeepers might well choose not to keep authorities apprised of their whereabouts.

Even when evacuation orders do get through, it is not clear where to go or how to get there. Only the stream of northbound traffic informed me that routes south were all blocked. Blue skies above and black smoke to the south and southwest revealed that we were upwind for the time being. I knew that I had time to pack and that I had to get out when I did. At 3:00, there was still no police presence, no sign whether my intended escape route remained open. It was, and I got through the canyon safely. By 5:00, the canyon was on fire.

When I came back ten days later, approaching the evacuation zone felt like sneaking behind enemy lines. There were checkpoints at all major intersections, giant floodlights, and police patrols from all over the state. Which failed to deter the looters who knew the unpaved trails to get around. It's basically impossible to stop everyone trying to enter an evacuation zone on foot, whether to make sure they haven't been looted or to make sure they don't lose their job.

Notification has to get better. Numerous recent failures have exposed flaws in the system. Here we are pressing for emergency sirens in conjunction with AM radio to let people know where the emergency is and how to proceed. But we don't have much of a language barrier here, unlike Los Angeles. This problem is big enough without ethnocentrism on top.
posted by backwoods at 12:26 AM on November 8 [4 favorites]


As a Northern California counterpoint, from environmental equity advocate Alvaro Sanchez.

@alvaros_views
has some words (and an image) for the media covering the viral wedding photo of the couple wearing face masks with the Kinkade fire behind them.

The image is of farmworkers harvesting in a field with the choking smoke and the eerie glow of wildfires. "The “new normal” is more appropriate for folks that have NO CHOICE other than to sacrifice their lungs to make a living. In fact, ppl in polluted communities have been living this “normal” for far too long."
posted by spamandkimchi at 10:00 AM on November 9


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