Letter to the Editor: Plenty of blame to go around; but thank you firefighters

Having been in Genesee the entire time of our Dixie Fire siege, I have the utmost appreciation for the many firefighters who have worked so hard to keep our valley and homes safe. Despite some very sketchy moments firefighters have put themselves in harm’s way and stood up to some rather impressive walls of flames. They have been both professional and “gritty”in saving our homes, without a single home lost in Genesee Valley.

Thanks go to the Plumas National Forest firefighters including Engine E22, Beckwourth and Susanville Hotshots, Gila, Inyo, and Tahoe Basin Hotshots, Taylorsville Fire Department, CDF crews, OES crews/engines from Culver City, Santa Barbara, Pasadena, Beverly Hills, Santa Monica, Alhambra, Lakeside,San Miguel, San Francisco, contractors, and the many others I did not meet during the weeks fighting this fire all around our valley.

Sure, there are long, boring, slow times looking for spot fires, “hardening” structures and implementing structure protection, letting the fire backburn slowly down slopes, etc., but other direct firefighting times are intense, hard, and dangerous work!  My compliments to all the firefighters and thank you for all of your efforts!!

On a related note, blame always surrounds any event like this, and some are quick to cast blame in certain directions. I think we all share a certain amount of the blame. Certainly utilities like PG&E are high on the list, starting the fire and paying well to shareholders and CEOs when more funds should have been invested on the ground in the infrastructure and safety; environmentalists who slowed down or stopped many logging operations; agencies bureaucracy; Smokey the Bear for “Crushing those Smokes” (which we have all supported for years); logging operations that selected the large, more profitable trees, leaving smaller fuels behind; agencies for not supporting more fuels reduction; and all of us for our consumptive modern lifestyles that have helped generate huge amounts of greenhouse gases leading to climate change.

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Fuels reduction and thinning can help reduce the impacts of future wildfires. Having seen first hand the value of fuels reduction to reduce the intensity of wildfire, we all need to promote fuels reduction and support local programs like “Firewise USA”, Plumas County FireSafe Council, and Firewise Communities.

I know that it has been a time of trial for most everyone, grief for some, relief for others, and just tiresome for all. We have been extremely lucky in Genesee!! Again THANK YOU to all of our firefighters!

Gordon Keller

Taylorsville, CA