If you watch the news, you have seen the recent images coming out of California and Washington documenting the latest rage of summer wildfires. You’d probably big quick to think these fires are becoming more and more common. It’s like the fire is after us, right?
We’ll the fires are not really more and more common and I’m fairly certain fire isn’t our direct enemy.
San Diego, CA, October 25, 2007 — Helicopters drop water and fire retardant on the Harris fire, near the Mexican border, to stop the wildfire from advancing. Currently the fires in Southern California have burned nearly 350,000 acres. Andrea Booher/FEMA
The next time you drive down the road, I want you to look for a dead deer. While morbid, it will help support my upcoming point. These dead-as-a-doorknob dear (spent bucks?) are more common in rural areas, obviously, where speeds are increased just like the brush. Many years ago, these same deer wouldn’t be in danger walking in the woods. But now roads are everywhere and so are dead deer. And these are the same dead deer trespassing on your property at the top of a mountain ridge. How dare them! That 18-wheeler serves them right, eh?
Hold on. Let’s get back to fires for a minute.
As the recent EPA graphical data shows, wildfires are not particularly on the rise (despite acreage being burned), but their media coverage is on the rise. Why? Because people’s homes are in danger. Why? Because people are building in high-prone wildfire areas. Why? Because it’s so pretty up here, duh!
It’s common sense, folks. You build your house in the woods and animals are bound to pay you a visit (bears rummaging through trash cans, raccoons eating leftovers, Yeti’s stealing things out of your … Yeti). We’re part of the wildfire problem and we can’t necessarily blame all of this on global warming. We have to blame some of this on Darwinism, I would think.
Don’t get me wrong here. I’m not trying to be a grumpy Gus and pretend like I don’t care about these folks losing, in some cases, their entire savings and real estate. I do feel terribly sorry for them. I couldn’t imagine watching my house burn to a crisp and know I nor all the fire service departments on the west coast could do anything to assist except use a garden hose to cool my house before fire engulfs it — sometimes in mere seconds. Maybe these folks just don’t understand the consequences of a serene setting. They value the view over the risk of a wildfire. A view that won’t quit — and now a fire that won’t either.
My point is, don’t act so surprised the next time you see a wildfire threatening homes. I mean, you don’t see fires popping up in metropolitan areas, do you? Other than buildings, you don’t. Other than arson fires or those caused by human area (aside from the small lightning strike that’s quarantined), no. They’re always in suburbia. In the middle of the mountains. Nowhereville.
Wildfires, in fact, are a natural occurrence. Who put out the fires in the 1600s when lightning hit these lands? Nobody. Native Americans watched them burn and then watched the grass grow back even greener. (Note: Yes, if you burn a tract of land, it will typically come back even greener. Take that, HOA!). And then we stole their land and built houses on ridge tops. Joke’s on us?
I’m sorry for the folks losing so much; I truly am. But, let’s take a step back and help prevent some of this. Let’s not overbuild on these rural lands, depleting already dry soil. Let’s let nature do it’s thing and burn healthy. It’s a natural cycle we must respect.
Just a thought that will probably be unpopular and not spread like, well, wildfire.