Fire reporting needs accuracy |

Fire reporting needs accuracy

Your April 2 editorial, “Teens’ Martis Fire fine too lenient” prompted a number of thoughts. According to the Oct. 2, 2001, Sacramento Bee, CDF promptly responded and limited the fire started by the juveniles to less than the size of a city lot. The Martis Fire developed the next day after CDF delayed a routine follow-up visit and high winds rekindled the fire. The teens may have started the fire, but the emergency response system worked. Since the actual Martis Fire started the next day, I question if your demands for accountability are misdirected.

Incidentally, isn’t this the same general scenario that occurred in the 1998 Oakland Hills fire? The fire department doused a debris burn the day before that rekindled into a large, damaging fire the next day. Oakland has changed its procedures to prevent it from happening again. The CDF Web site lists the cause of the Oakland Fire as a “Rekindle” but refers to the Martis Fire as a “Campfire.” Since fire cause seems to be an important component of pre-fire management, it seems like a consistent reporting standard would be helpful to developing effective solutions.

Living with fire is a fact of life in the foothills. Calling for the heads of the people or agencies responsible for the few fires that cause the most damage will not solve the problem. Managing for healthy forests, comprehensive planning and effective, consistent defensible space enforcement may not reduce the number of fires, but will have a dramatic impact on damage they cause.

Hugh Merriam

Grass Valley

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