Nothing could quench the sobs of my friend Jess, as she watched her wedding venue disappear under billowing clouds of smoke.
You see, late in the evening on Sunday October 12 a careless camper let a spark get loose near the campgrounds on Angel Island, the 740 acre state park in the middle of San Francisco Bay. Tinder-dry brush ignited quickly and soon fully half the island was engulfed in shooting gouts of flame.
Heroic firefighters evacuated campers and the island's few residents. Their efforts contained the fire quickly and kept it from spreading beyond the south side of the island. Thankfully, none of the historic buildings were harmed; the remnants of the immigration station and military buildings will continue to educate the public about the days of Chinese exclusion and the rarely told Pacific story of the US civil war. Still, the California Department of Parks closed the island indefinitely. My friends were scheduled to be married there the following weekend.
The bride and groom chose Angel Island for their wedding site months ago. For their ceremony they planned an elaborate Edwardian picnic in keeping with their English heritage and the history of the island. With the fire closure, cinders and ash replaced visions of lawn games and wicker baskets loaded with china, glassware and silver cutlery.