Dreams to Ashes
Special to 9News KUSA
Linda and Sam Lucas
Stories about wildfires in the nation’s “red zones” rarely tell the whole story. People who have lost their homes are castigated for not building defensible zones around their homes, which means cutting some of the trees.
Something should be said about why they built their dream homes in mountains that were susceptible to wildfires, snowstorms, avalanches, mudslides, flash floods and hurricane-force winds.
A song by the late Dan Fogelberg does just that, though it masquerades as just another love song.
“Longer than there've been fishes
in the ocean
Higher than any bird ever flew
Longer than there've been stars
up in the heavens
I've been in love with you.
Stronger than any mountain cathedral
Truer than any tree ever grew
Deeper than any forest primeval
I am in love with you.”
“Through the years as the fire
starts to mellow
Burning lines in the book of our lives
Though the binding cracks and the
pages start to yellow
I'll be in love with you.”
Before most mountain homeowners were educated about the wildfire danger, they would refuse to cut down trees near their homes. They said they came for the trees. They could build another home a lot faster than they could grow a tree.
Deaths other than firefighters are rare, except in highly populated California.
One of the nation’s largest wildfires was the Cerro Grande near Los Alamos, N.M. It is still called a “controlled burn” that got out of control.
“People who refer to prescribed burns as controlled burns instantly identify themselves as people who are not well-versed in what they are talking about. If you live in fire country you live with risk. There is a reason it is called wildfire,” said John Maclean, author of several books on wildfires. The latest is “The Esperanza Fire.”
Now homeowners need to be aware that they could be victims of aggressive prescribed burn policies that make all the sense in the world _ on paper.
Even if these burns do not escape, and 40 to 100 do each year according to the Nature Conservancy, it’s not much consolation that the wasteland in front of you will eventually look better.
Given that the vast majority of the media accepts the concept that prescribed burns are needed after more than a century of aggressively putting out wildfires. Were those efforts generally successful?