Will Call: Hold your fire
A few days before my fourth birthday, I remember my mother being called into work late at Valley View Hospital, where she was part of a team assigned to respond to requests from the media and frantic families as the survivors of the South Canyon Fire were brought in.
She did her best to explain what happened to me, but I don’t think I really understood it until years later, when our seventh grade class took a field trip to the memorials on the side of Storm King Mountain. By then, I’d seen the devastation of the Coal Seam Fire — watched as friends were evacuated and the flames jumped the river and seemed to threaten the whole of Glenwood.
The crosses on the mountainside were a reminder that it can always be worse.
Most of our readers don’t need a lecture on the threat of fire. They’ve seen its cost up close and personal, or know someone who has.
Yet, when one of my fellow reporters arrived at a campsite up Clinetop several weeks ago, he found the firepit still hot enough to relight without matches.
Every Fourth of July, I hear plenty of illegal fireworks shot off around town, and all summer long I seen smoldering cigarette butts on the side of the road.
Apparently, not everyone is learning the lesson, or are forgetting it as soon as it rains again or the brush fire is put out.
Folks, this is the West. It’s a lot easier to live here than it was a century ago, but there are still some compromises to be made. I’m not quite backing Ryan Hoffman’s suggestion to kill your lawn, but it’s worth remembering that water is a limiting factor out here. It’s already scarce, and we have more and more people to share it with.
The dry climate means we don’t have to worry much about mold or rot or some of the nastier bugs. We are also insulated from most natural disasters. While both Coal Seam and South Canyon were more or less natural in origin, however, it’s worth remembering that fire is one of the few natural disasters that can be started by people.
So, by all means, enjoy your Fourth of July. But please, please, please be careful with your campfires and fireworks this weekend, and in weekends to come. Destruction and death is bad enough when there’s no one to blame.
Will Grandbois has learned never to complain when it rains. He can be reached at 384-9105 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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