'Lucky I'm alive:' White Sox radio voice Ed Farmer shaken by California wildfires
A South Side native, St. Rita High School graduate, former White Sox all-star relief pitcher and the radio voice for his hometown team over the past 27 years, Ed Farmer has been calling Southern California his off-season home for 50 years.
Fortunately for Farmer, he still has a home.
Over time, Farmer has grown accustomed to seeing wildfires in and around the Los Angeles area, but nothing like the current blaze that has claimed over 40 lives.
"We've had them here before and they'd maybe burn 1,0000 acres and they'd put them out," Farmer said by phone Tuesday night from his home in Calabasas, Calif. "I've never seen one like this. When we evacuated, I was under the impression it was a little brush fire. It certainly grew.
"I'm lucky I'm alive. I'm lucky my family is alive. I'm not kidding. When we were evacuating and driving out on the 101 Freeway, there were flames on both sides."
With no hotel rooms available Friday, Farmer and family had to sleep in a car before returning to Calabasas the next day. The damage won't soon be forgotten.
"Whatever you've heard about wildfires here, increase it by 100,000 on this one," he said. "That's how fast this fire moved, that's how fast people got out."
Farmer said he was finally able to shower and shave on Monday, but it's going to be quite a while before his community returns to normal.
"I'm looking out the window now and I don't see any greenery," Farmer said. "I can see probably 10 miles away out of my back window, no green anywhere. Nothing. The devastation is severe."
Farmer said he's constantly checked in with two old friends that live in nearby Westlake Village -- former White Sox starting pitcher Jon Garland and ex-Angels manager Mike Scioscia.
Both are fine, although Scioscia did have a scare.
"He had fire on the bottom of the foundation of his house and put it out with his garden hose," Farmer said.