Wednesday, July 9, 2014

More than a slap on the wrist


    This week’s wildfire in Croy Canyon not only threatened homes, it deeply disturbed the peace of mind of every resident and worker in the Wood River Valley. Nearly everyone here has seen the consequences of uncontrolled wildfire because they’ve been on the front row of two major fires that sent Hailey, Sun Valley and Ketchum residents fleeing and severely damaged business revenues.
    Investigators suspect that the Croy Canyon fire outside Hailey was caused by fireworks. If an investigation finds that laws banning aerial fireworks or other banned materials were violated, anyone responsible should be prosecuted and receive more than a slap on the wrist as punishment.
    Fires caused by humans who violate restrictions on flammable materials are products of stupidity and carelessness.
    Western wildfires have increased both in number and in intensity in recent years, have cost lives and damaged property.
    Good fire-fighting skills, organization and good luck saved structures and lives in the Colorado Gulch Fire. Even so, when the costs are tallied, they will be high. However, no bill can quantify the fear and inconvenience forced on canyon residents who got the “Get out now” order in the middle of the night. No amount of money can restore the valley’s peace of mind.
    We need to send a strong message to anyone who would risk igniting wildfire, a message that is unmistakably, “Don’t even think about it.”
    It will take more than fines to curb carelessness. It will take courts ordering those who cause wildfires to serve the people and communities they endangered and to actively repair fire damage. Maybe then they will learn that wildfire losses are far greater than sage-covered hills.




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