Don’t panic; do something
Everyone take a deep breath.
The last two years have brought horrendous stories of wildfires across this state. Last summer one struck particularly close to home and provided a jolt that the most complacent of those among us couldn’t ignore. Now there seems to be an almost manic need to ensure that it doesn’t happen here.
We who live in Plumas County have always lived with the threat of wildfire, but it felt like there would be a warning, that there would be time to escape the danger. The Tubbs, Carr and Camp fires proved otherwise. Having traveled through the aftermath of all three, we have seen the devastation, and the seemingly randomness of homes left standing and homes destroyed. Even more than the property destruction, the loss of life has punctured our bubble of belief that there would be time to escape.
No doubt this year’s fire season is going to be intense and long, and which areas will be hit is anyone’s guess. Concern isn’t limited to us mountain dwellers. Memories of flames driving through Santa Rosa are still fresh.
This week each newspaper contains at least one story about what individuals are doing locally to prepare for wildfire season. Additionally, there’s a story from the perspective of a Butte County school district administrator about the series of events that unfolded during the Camp Fire. During his presentation at Feather River College he noted that schools practice active shooter drills, but don’t practice what to do if a wildfire is approaching — something that he said is far more likely to happen. We encourage you to read this story penned by Victoria Metcalf, which captures the raw emotion experienced on that fateful morning last November and in the ensuing days.
On the facing page of this editorial, the county’s fire prevention officer, Sue McCourt, provides some handy information about what homeowners can do to protect their homes. While in our minds we picture flames advancing and consuming structures, she explains that the far more likely scenario is that embers (which can travel more than a mile from a fire) could ignite your home. There are many helpful steps that should be taken now to protect your home from that fate.
Sometimes it might seem like a drop in the bucket. Will removing the pine needles from the roof or cutting a few more limbs really spare our homes? It’s actually quite possible that it could. But even if it isn’t enough; even if the fire is just too intense, at least you will know that you did what you could. At least you don’t have to live with “coulda, woulda, shoulda.” So let’s push “stop” on the panic button, breath, listen to the experts and get prepared.