Our View: We must move forward after the fire | TheUnion.com

Our View: We must move forward after the fire

The Union Editorial Board

Few things cause fear like fire.

We plan for it, prepare for it and are never quite ready when it comes. We talk about fires that happened years ago and fires happening right now in far away counties, hoping it never occurs here.

And then, late Sunday, it did.

The Lobo and McCourtney fires, strengthened by strong winds, tore through our community. They disrupted lives, destroyed buildings and burned irreplaceable photos.

Our firefighters and first responders more than stepped up to this challenge. They knocked on our doors, alerting us to the evacuation orders. They worked tirelessly to fight the fires. Today they remain at those fires, cutting containment lines and putting out hot spots.

These fires could have been much worse. The men and women who serve our community deserve more than thanks. In plenty of cases, we owe them our lives.

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The Nevada County fires still burn and smolder, but it appears that we've made it through the worst. Others in our state aren't that lucky. Our evacuation orders have been lifted and thousands of people have returned to their homes to assess the damage, pick up the pieces and move forward.

With smoke still lingering in the air, we as a community must move forward as well.

There's no official cause for the fires, though downed trees and power lines are obvious suspects. We can't control the winds — and we don't have the money to relocate power lines underground across our county — but we can do something about our defensible space.

Clearing that space is the responsibility of property owners. The county has the power to step in when someone fails to clear their space, do the clean up itself and then put a lien on the property.

County officials should consider not only stepping up how often they initiate this process, but also decreasing the amount of time before they take action.

We're in a precarious situation here, and this week's fires should highlight that. It's difficult for fire engines to reach certain spots in our county. Our land is far from flat and our roads narrow in many spots. Insurers are leaving this county or, alternatively, jacking up the price to insure a home.

We've got to take action to protect ourselves and our property, and creating defensible space is one of the best options we have.

We also can stay informed. Forewarned is forearmed, as they say, and you can get that knowledge right here at The Union. Find us online at http://www.theunion.com and sign up for our text alerts by texting "unionnews" to 86677.

Signing up for the county's CodeRED alert system is a good idea, as well.

The Fire Safe Council of Nevada County also has great information and should be used as resource. Find the organization online at http://www.areyoufiresafe.com.

Our county always will have the threat of fire. Some fear of that fire is healthy; it keeps us alert.

Let's not let this fear push us into inaction but instead force us to create our defensible space, form a plan and keep our important items and papers in a spot where we can easily grab them when the next fire comes.

Because it will come. And we'll be ready for it.

The weekly Our View editorial represents the consensus opinion of The Union Editorial Board, a group of editors and writers from The Union, as well as informed community members. Contact the board at EditBoard@TheUnion.com.

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