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Letter to the Editor: No free refills

The snipe hunt, oar-lock key, board stretcher, water maker, and unicorn are all mythical.  Evaporation is very real.  On a warm and windy day, with low relative humidity, extremely dry and abundant fuels, and a large wildfire to deal with, engines or tankers must be positioned early in the hope of stopping a fire at a certain break.  Though the straight stream could probably shoot hundreds of feet, it just doesn’t work to suppress a fire at long range.  The hundreds of gallons of water available to an engine, with two hoses and nozzles wide-open, would likely last between 20 minutes and half-an-hour.  A water tender divided between 3 engines would easily give an hour’s worth of water; but couldn’t last all afternoon.  Each gallon of water can only be used once, there are no free refills on the fire line.  When it seems that a cluster of fire-fighters are “just standing around,” it is more likely to be “anxious anticipation.”

Gene Nielsen

Crescent Mills

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