The Fire In Me Smolders

They say outside today is a Red Flag Day. It’s 40 to 50 MPH wind gusts and only 20% humidity. Our area hasn’t received enough rain for the season. Put it all together and I guess that adds up to: duh, stupid people should try to remember not to throw their cigarette butts on the ground or burn brush today. I say “stupid people”, because that seems like a no-brainer to me.

So, just because someone “planned” to burn their brush pile today, or “planned” to have friends over for that outside fire with wieners and marshmallows, they’re still gonna do it. Why? Because that’s how they planned to do it, and by golly why should they change their plans just because the wind didn’t cooperate? I say, they’re stupid. It’s very easy to change plans and just do it on another day, but humans don’t like change. They like to make plans and stick to ’em. Why, it’s rude not to, right? Dumb-assess. It might not burn down YOUR house, but gee it could put your neighbor’s house in jeopardy. Or a person, like the fireman that has to be called, because of your stupidity.

When I say stuff like this people look at me like I’M the one who’s rude. Like there’s no possible way one cigarette is going to start a fire. I’m sure all the dead people in California feel that way right now. Try to say that with a straight face to their loved ones.

Just because we live in MN doesn’t mean we don’t have wildfires. In 1894 we had the worst one in Hinckley that killed 418 people and destroyed 12 towns and burned 350,000 acres. That was a drought year like this one and the fire was started by a small brush fire. In 1910 the Baudette fire also burned my small hometown of Roosevelt killing 42 people 300,000 acres and other small towns. It was a drought year and was started by sparks from trains going by. Let’s skip to modern days to the Ham Lake Fire that burned 76,000 acres and was started by a campfire. How about the 2011 Pagami Creek, Ely Fire that burned 93,000 acres that was started by drought/lightning. All of the MN wildfires in drought years have been started from things you would expect: sparks from trains, campfires, small brush fires, lightning and cigarettes.

As I sit here writing this I spun over to google just to check on the stupid humans. Sure enough, there’s a fire on the DNR website that burned 400 acres about 100 miles from my current town, cause: human. I just sit shaking my head. It just takes a “special” someone to go out and (“not” think) and play with fire when the winds are blowin’.

The 2017 western wildfire season has been unprecedented in terms of large, long-duration fires. As of Sept. 15, the National Interagency Fire Center (NIFC) reports a total of nearly 49,500 wildfires this summer with almost 8.4 million acres burned. I wonder how much of that was, cause: human. Yes, I realize a lot of it could be started by lightning or sparks from, well, anything. Realistically though, humans just live too close together and don’t have enough space between their homes and their stuff and fire-fuel. In a drought there is “fuel” everywhere. Our homes are just too close together and flames just jump from one roof to another in a chain effect like a cartoon image of an animated flame-thrower just grinning from ear to ear telling his mom, “look ma, no hands,” as the flames are effortlessly jumping from house to house in a giddy little dance.

It just makes me smolder inside as we continue to encroach on more wilderness to build more housing complexes without thinking ahead about fire season. Contractors, construction builders, and city planners should take these things into consideration prior to building. People will just keep moving into these area of housing as long as we keeping building them. It will take education, as always, to make people understand how to keep your home fire safe. A large buffer around your home between your home and your outside stuff and any wilderness “fuel” and the next home is necessary. We can’t just keep on building houses within arms reach of each other. The high loss of life will just keep continuing until we learn our lessons.

Yes, Nature will be nature and continues on through fire and renews itself. Stuff can be replaced. Even homes can be replaced. I just think the 7 billion people on this planet could use what’s between our ears to think more often, educate better, and maybe figure out how to continue our own species without taking out the others on all those acres. I don’t know the answers. I just know, cause: human, makes me smolder.

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