Wednesday, October 24, 2007

We feel California?s pain


The toll taken by California wildfires is almost incomprehensible and certainly incalculable at this hour of a major catastrophe. More than 500,000 persons evacuated. Hundreds of homes turned into blackened kindling by flames and tornadic Santa Ana winds. Lives virtually paralyzed with grief and total loss of possessions. Billions of dollars in property loss, much of it, thankfully, recoverable through insurance. At least two dead as of Tuesday.

For Wood River Valley residents, no longer are these distant calamitous fires only matters of casual, passing attention. We can feel the pain, the uncertainty, the foreboding of California families as they contemplate life during and after being hit by a disaster they could never anticipate.

Many local families have roots in southern California, know its beauty, and have friends in the stricken areas. And we now have something else in common: one of the fires, the Ranch Fire, is being fought by California Interagency Incident Management Team 3, commanded by Jeanne Pincha-Tulley—the team that squelched our Castle Rock Fire.

That August fire still is vivid—the threatening flames, choking smoke, sudden evacuations, the ubiquitous sound of aircraft and helicopters bombing the blaze with retardant, an army of firefighters.

However, a finer fate was ours—not a single structure or life was lost. Call it the relentless skills of firefighters. Call it luck. Call it divine intervention.

Californians made homeless by fires will need plenty of help—clothing, household essentials, perhaps cash. Because Wood River residents can empathize, we should be among the first to lend a hand when asked.




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