“THE GREATEST DECEPTION MEN SUFFER IS
FROM THEIR OWN OPINIONS.”
Leonardo da Vinci
The horror of watching the fires in California is a horror that is repeated over and over. When I was a firefighter in the 1970’s the major factors in the spread of fires was well known, and efforts to minimize the factors that make the fires less has been well known for a long time.
So then why does the number and severity of fire continue to climb? The passions of people who have other agenda’s and are far removed from the places that burn. I have in the past predicted that the really big fire in Colorado has not been seen yet. Some may think that when Colorado burned right into the Garden of the gods and the Colorado Springs area was the one. It is not.
Because of policies advocated by organizations far removed from the area the really big one will happen. There are thousands of acres of dead and dying timber in the Rockies that needs to be taken down and remove the source for more disease and the fuel for the fire. And it is stopped by organizations and self appointed zealots who file law suits at every point that would make the forests healthy again. An the public and news media side with these people stopping the work of getting the wild lands back to being productive and healthy again.
There is a sign that is up in a lot of communities in the West right now. They read LOG IT, GRAZE IT, OR BURN IT! There is no unseen truths. The original intent of the Forest Service and the agencies that have become an alphabet of bureaucracies was to manage public lands. This means keeping them healthy and available for the citizens.
Yet the BUREAU OF LAND MANAGEMENT has a track record of excluding multiple use. The resulting fires on BLM lands is visibly worse than privately managed lands next to them. When fires from the public lands threatens private ranch land and controlled burns take place the result can be for the rancher to go to prison and be forced off of his land in bankruptcy.
The Ventura fire is in an area that has not burned in 20 years. Yet when efforts to control the fire load are attempted there are organizations and individuals that throw the planned management into court and the result is the fire that is a part of the land takes everything. Yet you will notice the exceptions. The news points out the lone house that was not taken by the fire when everything else is a heap of ashes. Most times it is because the owners did their preparation to minimize their risk.
The term ‘Urban Interface’ has become an often used term lately. In the 1970’s and before that was the 70% set of circumstances for Sedgwick County Kansas. This is what our department dealt with on a daily basis. Equipment and tactics for urban interface were what we dealt with without having the new term for it. This is simply where wild land and the dwellings and buildings of man meet.
The Anderson Creek and Starbuck Fires were something that were going to happen and it just took the right set of circumstances for them to become the top 2 largest fires on private property in the United States. The realities of living in a sea of grass is that fire is an undeniable part of the region. The fire departments of the area do a wonderful job trying to keep homes and lives from being lost but even with the reality it is terribly difficult when equipment is aging, tax base is dropping, and the age of the firefighter (and his health) is increasing.
If you feel so strongly about the great western landscape then do not join and fund organizations that are contributing towards the harm of it. Very little news is coming out about the fact that for the last 4 years the online Alkeda news magazine has been exhorting their followers to set fires in the forests and the west. Over half of the fires suffered in the last few years have been incendiary in nature. The arrests and trials of those arrested are soon lost from the news cycle.
And as soon as the news-cycle is over the people will come out of the shadows again to stop working in the forests and hills to stop the fires from continuing with no control.
What little news that I can get on Air-tanker 944 is that it is performing well beyond its expected limitations. With all the objections that the Forest Service and the Federal Government have had in the past the 747 has done a fantastic job. Yet the Federal Government has not given the company a contract. So much for the statements that all measures will be taken to fight the fires in the West.
Interesting now that Governor Moonbeam announced that “this may be the new normal in California”. Uhh, he was Governor in the 1970’s when I was on active duty. The fires were burning in California every year then and Santa Anna Winds have always been a devastating factor in the fires of CA.
It has taken 47 years for Gov. Brown to get that fire is a part of life in his state. It has been a fact for centuries. He is a pretty quick study.
Scientific studies identified the influences and preventative measures of fire in the 1970’s California. Yet they still allow building into these areas. When measures are taken to lessen the severity of the inevitable fires, the law suits come out.
When a company that insures high end properties offers a service that comes in prior to the fire covering the insured properties with a fire retardant foam, there is nothing but derision from the press. The process has been about 80% effective in saving properties. Instead of trying to extend the service to others the people who insure with that company are subject to derision in the press.
Isn’t it time to start thinking ahead? Technology is advancing at a rapid rate and yet the protection from fire has to rely on the preparation of the individual, and the ability of the fire service to use limited resources. It is time for a pre-planning and planning session from the department and resident level to the level of the NFPA. Standards need to be addressed on the local conditions level and not the large urban department and Washington bureaucrats.
A change of attitudes would help a lot. Those in authority tend to deceive themselves.