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Produced & Maintained by Idaho Mountain Express, Box 1013, Ketchum, ID 83340-1013 
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Copyright © 2001 Express Publishing Inc.
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For the week of August 1 - 7, 2001


Sage Fire calls attention to prevention

The Sage Fire that burned in Warm Springs Canyon last week should have gotten everyone’s attention by now, but just in case it didn’t we will point out the obvious: The hills are tinder dry and it takes little to ignite them.

It’s in everyone’s interest to avoid kicking off a blaze that could cost millions to suppress, result in the loss of millions of dollars of property, threaten lives and asphyxiate the valley’s important summer tourist season.

It’s a good bet that Jackson, Wyo., has dropped off the list of destinations for many visitors this month because of a vast fire that is still burning in the forest south of the popular town. It drew national attention when it threatened expensive homes including Vice President Dick Cheney’s.

The east entrance to Yellowstone National Park also is closed now because of another fire.

It’s no secret that Idaho is drought-ridden. Despite the dangers, we still see hikers who park low-slung vehicles hot from a long drive in brush rather than on rocky ground.

We see dirt bikers who ignore the danger and go riding cross country.

We see people operating equipment near brushy areas who are clueless about what could happen should a spark be generated.

We see campers who think nothing of leaving a smoldering campfire behind. Campers should think twice about having a campfire at all, especially in dispersed areas. They should always have plenty of water and a shovel handy to extinguish sparks that may get away.

We see people continuing to build, and some cities continuing to require, homes with roofs made of wooden shingles instead of safer fire-rated asphalt shingles.

The speed with which the Sage Fire grew from a tiny circle of dry grass and rock into a blaze that scorched more than 300 acres was stunning.

Without the force applied to the blaze by determined local and Forest Service fire fighters, the blaze might still be burning. Residents and visitors, helpless to stop the advancing flames, watched with admiration and appreciation as the pros did their dirty, dangerous and exhausting jobs.

Residents and visitors need to be hyper concerned about fire. The valley’s cities need to review their building requirements and make sure they require buildings that discourage the spread of fire. Federal agencies need to do a better job educating people about the dangers of fire in areas where development meets public lands.

A little care will go a long way toward preventing more unnecessary fires.

The Idaho Mountain Express is distributed free to residents and guests throughout the Sun Valley, Idaho resort area community. Subscribers to the Idaho Mountain Express will read these stories and others in this week's issue.