It was on the way back of California--as the plane took off early Monday--that D'Destin Kaufmann really got to see the disaster that's so dominating life on the west coast.
"It was still dark," he says, of his 3 a.m. flight, "and it was just--when you're that high and there's that much fire. It's really something to behold."
Now a grad student at MSU, Kaufmann lived in southern California for about ten years. He was back for a wedding this past weekend, but he says the fires were impossible to ignore. The smell, he describes, as a burned campfire but with burning plastic mixed in. The smoke, he says, was everywhere.
"We got into the LA basin. It was just luminous. It looks like, for lack of a better word, a horror movie," Kaufmann says. "On the freeway, there were sandstorms. You actually had to pull your car over to stop."
Kaufmann says he has friends evacuated from Malibu who worry the homes they've left behind may burn. "It looks like the end of the world," he says, "There is nobody not affected."