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Our View: Time to fight fire

There is no good wildfire.

But if there were one, last week’s Golden Fire would come close.

The fire, just south of Camptonville along Highway 49, burned some 20 acres. It destroyed no structures, caused no injuries, and was fully contained in two days.

Our fire agencies descended quickly on this blaze. We commend them for their work, as they always should be. We got lucky, sure. But we also have committed and skilled firefighters working in our community.

The Golden Fire might be considered close to a good wildfire because while it didn’t cause massive damage, it got rid of some fire fuels before the season really gets bad and focused our thoughts once again on fire season.

It was easy to forget about fire around New Year’s Day, when snow was blocking the road. The hot months seemed like they’d never return.

But here we are, again huddled around the police scanner, awaiting the next call.

There are the things any individual can do: prepare the go-bag, keep a checklist nearby, ensure the gas tank is full.

Then there are the things we need the community to accomplish, and the goals we need our elected leaders to pursue.

We need to be reminded about the little things, which turn out to be some of the most important when the time comes. There likely won’t be an hour to prepare when the fire is coming. A go-bag with a first aid kit, drinking water, flashlights and candles, a battery-operated radio, and vital documents should be ready, by your door, right now. If it’s not, use this weekend to prepare it. And if you need more ideas for what to bring, find a copy of the Wildfire Season Guide at The Union offices and visit http://www.areyoufiresafe.com, the website for the Fire Safe Council of Nevada County.

Additionally, everyone should know their evacuation zone. Find it at community.zonehaven.com. If you’re renting out your property, ensure your guests have this same information and understand that while personal fires might be OK where they’re from, they won’t fly here.

There’s only so much we can do on our own. Many of our county’s residents can’t clear their own defensible space, don’t have the money to have someone clear it for them, or both.

This is a community problem, and that means we need our local government to help.

One thing people can do is have a defensible space advisory visit from the Fire Safe Council. An adviser will walk around your home with you, and their advice isn’t reported to anyone. Call them at 530-272-1122.

However, this doesn’t solve the problem of clearing defensible space, which depending on your property could cost into the tens of thousands of dollars.

That’s why our local government must step in.

On Tuesday, Supervisor Ed Scofield mentioned those residents who can’t remove the fire fuels on their property. He said the county is looking at various Firewise communities, which can provide more access to funds through micro-grants.

That’s great. Now tell us how to access it, because we don’t just need those funds right now, we needed them a month ago. And we’ll need them again this time next year.

Fire is everyone’s problem, and one that isn’t going to be fixed by any one solution. We still have many people living in the woods who cause a danger with warming and cooking fires. There’s always someone cutting weeds and tall grass at the wrong time of day, starting a small blaze. Or a vehicle dragging a chain, just waiting for that one spark.

We live in Nevada County because we love it. You can’t beat the quality of life, the natural beauty or the people who inhabit it.

And, yes, we deal with the constant threat of fires because we choose to live here. But that doesn’t mean we throw up our hands and give up.

It means we fight.

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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