• Lynn Myers

Sparks are Flying

Even though I claim New Mexico as home today, I basically grew up in southern California. San Fernando Valley to be exact. Every year about this time we would have the ‘Santana (Devil) Winds’ start up and they would blow something fierce till after the first of the year, and yes there were fires. In fact, I thought that the ONLY fires that there were worth reporting were the ones we had, in and around the mountains of Los Angeles. At least those were the ones we heard about on our local networks.

As a child, I didn’t think about trees burning, for most of the vegetation was grass and the property was owned by federal government, oil companies, or farmers and ranchers. Not anything like it is now. As the land was sold off to developers and became small communities: Simi Valley, Moore Park, Santa Paula, Newberry, Thousand Oaks, etc. The open spaces turned into neighborhoods, business districts and light industry. All are now in jeopardy to natures wrath. This is not just in So-Cal, but nationwide. With the fire comes flooding.

In the 50s and 60s it would take a matter of hours for a grass fire on the hills to burn down to the sea across scattered farm land. But as the city and towns began to grow, so too did the vegetation, including trees of every shape and size that were introduced through agriculture and man’s desire for aesthetics. In the recent wrath of disaster through the neighborhoods, fan tail palms became a catalyst of the infernos, with other vegetation. Embers festered in the palms and exploded, sending sparks flying in all directions.

Over my life time I can’t count the number of major wild fires I have lived through, there were so many. This last week has brought many images back to me in full blooming technicolor. I remembered the fires that took the homes in the Bel Air Fire, The Angeles Nationalist Forest Fire, the twice burned Northridge Fire to isolate a few memory jogs, mainly because I was pregnant during each of them. These fires burned land that I personally was connected to then, and now.

What if the Little Bear Fire in Lincoln County had turned into the onslaught of disaster that annihilated Paradise California? By the grace of God our own paradise was saved that night. Much of our terrain is similar to that of Northern California. The natural fuels that surround us here are as volatile. We are fortunate that in recent times we have seen some proactive measures taken on our behalf with established fire break lines and forestry management.

Yes, we mismanaged our land for decades in the past, through ignorance. Much of our nation’s land that was once harvested for lumber is still over grown and forgotten. If we listen to the early ways our Native American neighbors, and only use what we really need, thinning and clearing what is not needed; that practice will protect the land for the future.

How can we do our part to prevent forest fires?

· Creating our own personal defense space around our property.

· Taking individual responsibilities.

· Preventative measures.

· Precautionary actions.

· Becoming proactive.

· Making better decisions.

· Being fire safe.

Fire moves swift and political statement move faster. There are men and women out there laying down their lives to protect others. And we need to support them in any way we can. Now is the time to extinguish all the flames.

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