Our View: Prepare, and pray for rain
Dark clouds loomed over western Nevada County on Tuesday, at least for a while.
Maybe you felt a few raindrops fall — rare this time of year. It grew cooler that day, then warmed quickly. By Thursday you never would have known a few drops of water had fallen from the sky this week.
And we’re not likely to see any fall again for some time.
A little later in the year, dark skies herald an end to the fear of fire for another season. Rain falls, and the North State slowly relaxes for another winter. We made it, people say. We made it through another fire season.
But we’re nowhere close to that point right now.
The Dixie Fire, at 221,504 acres Friday morning, likely is just one of the first major fires of this season. The Tamarack Fire, southeast of South Lake Tahoe at 68,696 acres, is another. Neither is completely contained.
They won’t be the last fires of this season.
It’s easy to fall into a groove of out of sight, out of mind. Sure, there are huge fires in our state, but they’re far away. We might have some hazy days, but the flames aren’t at our front doors.
That’s true. They’re not … yet.
Chances are we won’t get several hours’ notice of a major fire headed our way. If we’re lucky, we’ll at least have a few minutes. That’s why it’s essential to have a go-bag, have a strong plan, and test multiple exits from your neighborhood.
Because the road you use every day might be the one covered in flames.
Anyone who’s fled from a fire knows the stress that fear can bring. There’s no time to plan in that moment. That’s why a go-bag — including items like a map, prescriptions, a radio, flashlight, batteries, clothes, emergency cash, and essential documents — should have its own place by the door or in the car. No need to think about what goes in it when the time comes. Just grab, and go.
Evacuation orders should be heeded. Don’t wait for the hi-lo siren issuing from the sheriff’s vehicle. Sign up for Code RED alerts. Watch local media — TheUnion.com, Yubanet, KNCO and KVMR — as well. Both government and media will do what they can to inform the public, but the responsibility is on the individual.
It’s also incumbent on each of us to ensure our homes are hardened. That includes clearing fire fuels from the land, removing low-hanging limbs and keeping grass and brush cut.
If we maintain our defensible space, and all our neighbors do the same, our chance of safely fleeing a fire increases.
It also increases the chance of firefighters saving our homes. They have something to work with when our fire fuels are removed. Don’t expect them to save a building surrounded by fire fuels and consumed in flame.
We must perform the same tasks as a community. We’ve made some good progress on that, with the Ponderosa West fire break being the main example.
But there’s plenty more we must do. Forests must be thinned, and that often requires the OK of a handful of different property owners, some of them various governments.
Our cities and counties must also keep at their own mitigation efforts. This is a team effort, and our western Nevada County team has done a pretty good job so far.
But there’s always more that should be done, always another overgrown field that should be cut. Acknowledging that and working together means we can protect ourselves, our neighbors and our community.
So prep your go-bags, create a plan, and pray for rain.
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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