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Ah, the first day of fall is upon us.

The leaves are starting to change. A brisk, cool breeze from the north presages winter's chill. Pro football is in full swing...

Sorry. For a minute there we thought we were back East (yes, we admit it, LAist is a transplant).

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Not that we want to go back. We love LA. Hell, we moved out here with a dream to be a weblog, and LA made it happen. We even changed our name to LAist.

And we don't even miss the NFL. Really.

But fall in LA is where the bill for all our great weather comes due.

The months, sometime years, without substantial rainfall (quick, when's the last time the Dodgers were rained out?). Our nearly year-round sunny weather, which bakes the vegetation into a state of extreme flammability. Low humidity (friend to celebrity hairdressers across the Southland), which precludes all but the merest whisper of morning dew.

Awesome weather, right? You bet! It's the weather that launched thousands of trips west, out of the frigid cold of the Rust Belt. We love it, with good reason.

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But then, in early fall, a harsh, hot wind is born in the bellows of the Nevada desert. The Santa Ana winds come howling through the passes and canyons of the Los Angeles basin. Southern California becomes a tinderbox. People are on edge (and suffering from allergies). As Raymond Chandler observed, during the winds:

"...every booze party ends in a fight. Meek little wives feel the edge of a carving knife and study their husbands' necks."

And somewhere there is a pyromaniac with a gallon of gas and match, a bonehead hiker who sets a signal fire when he gets lost, or a San Gabriel Valley stoner burning one in the hills behind his subdivision who's going to set the whole thing off.