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Socal Skyfires Scorch Subprime Skytellites
October 18, 2018

RIVERSIDE--City and county fire officials admitted Thursday that 14 of the reported 22 skyfires burning in and around Riverside county remain untamed this evening. "Crews continue to work through the night," explains Fire Chief Lacey Birnier. "I'm told that some 400 homes have been damaged or destroyed, and that another 1,200 are threatened. Our people know what's at stake, and, to the man, not one has faltered. The next 24 to 48 hours will determine whether these fires can be contained."

The airborne fires, some of which have burned for more than nine days, are fueled by thermobaric clouds of atomized landfill and other condensing nano-particulates disbursed into the upper atmosphere by disposal units commonly used in the county's tethered, low-earth-orbit neighborhoods. The roiling clouds of burning waste-vapor have been described by local witnesses as both "apocalyptic" and "breathtaking." "I mean, I've seen the entire rainbow in those fires," notes William Lennox, 43, a Plato Verde dentist and father of two. "The heat is incredible, and the smell, but the colors are really what gets you. The sky is literally burning, but the colors are just amazing."

Though falling cinders have resulted in small, sporadic fires in the county's traditional neighborhoods, the destruction has been concentrated chiefly in three of Riverside's many skytellite developments. The developments consist of groups of low-earth-orbit tract homes commonly sharing a carbon-wire tether which anchors them to the county's taxbase and supports a commuting elevator which also ferries freight and essential supplies.

Built as an inexpensive alternative for middle-class families in the inland's overheated real estate market, many of the homes were financed with risky "subprime" financing. "The interesting thing about these inexpensive 'skytellite' homes is just how expensive they really were," explains Cal State City of Industry Professor of Finance Jumra Stone. "Because of widespread contractor expense overruns associated with the difficulty of sub-orbital construction, the typical three-bedroom ranch house with a quarter-acre lawn cost the owner five to seven times more per square foot than a conventional home, requiring most purchasers to seek out riskier subprime loans."

Temporary negotiation camps have been constructed by the Red Cross in nearby Orange County to house the teams of mortgage and insurance adjusters expected to assemble in coming days to assess the impact of the fires on lending institutions and the companies that insure them and the homes whose purchases they have financed. "We have a good supply of blankets, coffee, and document scanners," notes the Red Cross's David Wenk. "Green tents will house the mortgage guys, khaki tents for insurance, and, over there, the red tents for the lawyers. We should have plenty of cots for everybody."

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