Friday, August 15, 2008

Remember spirit of Castle Rock fire

It's now just a year since the most momentous event in the Wood River Valley's modern history, the start of the Castle Rock fire, which began on Aug. 19, 2007, swept through 48,520 acres of backcountry woodlands and held valley residents and visitors spellbound as 1,700 firefighters valiantly staved off flames foot-by-foot from reaching homes.

What emerged from those 20 days of suspenseful drama were human qualities that should be remembered and memorialized as a testament to the spirit of the valley. Thousands of people stepped forward to volunteer with time, donated food for firefighters and housing for families evacuated from danger areas, and manned information desks to provide neighbors with updated information on the fire's movement.

As the Ketchum area took on the atmosphere of a town under siege, residents quickly abandoned their homes when ordered by authorities, easing the burdens of those responsible for protecting life and property.

The community pulled together with extraordinary energy and selflessness. And it was a time to properly reward heroes of Castle Rock—the firefighters, law enforcement and emergency medical units—with unrestrained praise and adulation.

This is a powerful force that can be triggered in other times of community need, whether weathering economic bad times or joining together on civic issues to better the lives of families or protecting the quality of life that is our main asset.

No future event is apt to be as threatening or dramatic as the Castle Rock blaze. But it demonstrated without any prodding the character and mettle of the valley when tough times require courage and teamwork.

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