Sunday, July 8, 2012

Home For a Short Break

When I started this site back in November my hesitation with doing so was that I would not be able to keep things up to date during the summer.  Well my fears became a reality about 2 weeks ago when I was called out on a fire assignment to central Utah.  I had high hopes that if I took the laptop I could post now and then after hours, but little sleep with a long shift, coupled with a dead battery on the computer proved to much to overcome to kick out some posts!  However, I was very surprised to see that our views over the 2 weeks have not really dropped, something keeps bringing people back.  I have to say thanks for those of you that are sticking with us.  I hope to resolve this problem by eventually finding a "pro-staffer" that can maybe fill in the gaps while I am gone.  We're also going to get my wife in on the mix with a couple of product reviews really soon for you ladies.

I've only been home for a few hours tonight, and really need to devote some time to my family.  So for tonight I just wanted to share a few images from my wanderings on the fireline over the last 2 weeks, and to point out some very serious thoughts to you all. 

You have no doubt by now turned on the TV and seen countless images of homes burning due to wildfires.  This is my first year in my 12 year career that I have witnessed such destruction of human property.  True, this has happened before, take California for example where it has happened a few times over the past 10 years.  I never made it to those fires.  So this year took on new meaning to me, especially as I found myself on the Wood Hollow fire in Sanpete County, Utah where I witnessed the fire make a run on the community of Fairview.  What hit home for me was watching friends and family members being evacuated from this peaceful little town.  In the end, all was well for Fairview, but not so for nearly 160 homeowners throughout the mountain areas to the north. 

Nearly every fire on our national report this year has been human caused!  That is a staggering thought when you look at the enormous size of these fires.  Over 1 million acres burned this year, hundreds of structures gone, all due to human causes.  This is where it is important to note that "human caused" does not mean arson fires.  Most are carelessness.  Escaped campfires, burning on private land, vehicle fires, chains dragging down the highway on trailers, lack of spark arresters  on chainsaws or ATVs, cigarettes tossed to the roadside, fireworks...I'm sure we could go on and on.  Just looking at the 12 major fires that have occurred in Utah in the past 2 months, only 1 fire, the Seeley Fire near Scofield Reservoir was sparked by lightning, the rest have been the results of a variety of human caused actions.  I know for Southern Utah we rarely have over maybe 6 human caused fires a year, and most have remained small.  It's a very alarming to now see our number of  human starts far surpass our number of lightning caused fires.  Why has this change occurred, well I'm not sure.  Whatever is going on it will not get better until we educate others, and become more diligent in reporting those we do come across that are careless.

In short, a lot of these were caused by innocent people that thought they were being careful.  This year one of the worst even some of the older generations of firefighters have seen; record temps, constant wind for the past 2 months, little precipitation, and very dry fuels.  Everything out there is ready to burn, and we're seeing fire where we typically haven't in the past.  By the time firefighters arrive, even with a 15-20 minute response time, these fires are off to the races.  What is an engine with 700 gallons of water going to do against 50' or higher flame lengths on a fire running several miles per hour?  Most of our starts have grown to several thousand acres in one day.  From 2,000 acres to over 100,000 acres, Utah's fires have been devastating this year.  Of course we have seen the same in Colorado, Nevada, and New Mexico this year.

So in short, this is my plea to you to please be careful in the outdoors this summer.  It amazes me how many tickets are still being issued to people with campfires outside of campgrounds with all that has been going on around our state.  I think people often think "I'm not one of those dummies, I know how to manage a campfire."  Folks, all it takes this year is one spark, one of those tiny embers floating away from the fire on the breeze.  Those tiny embers can smolder for hours without detection, then pop up suddenly when the right conditions present themselves.  Don't be that guy or girl this year.  Please adhere to the fire restrictions, put the fireworks away, double check your trailers, and just be careful out there.  We are so lucky there have been so few injuries!

On a lighter note, I've received some awesome photos from viewers that I hope to get up in the next couple of days.  From big fish, big bucks, and some shots of the new little ones out there, we have some great things coming up here on SUH&F.  Thanks for your support and understanding as I travel around to provide for my family.  Who knows, maybe one day this will be a little more full time and things will only get better here.