It’s hard to say whether residents of the Tri-Counties will ever take wildfires and other disasters in stride.
Nothing quite resembles being forced to evacuate a canyon home and leave most belongings behind. Some residents simply refuse to leave.
But those trying to help – the first responders – have dedicated their lives to saving lives first and then trying to protect property. It’s not an easy task and first responders don’t get nearly enough praise for what they do.
It’s dirty, hot and dangerous work that requires a great deal of training and conditioning. Many times firefighters – like the hundreds battling the Gap Fire – will work for days without much sleep, finish their job, pack their gear and then move on to the next big wildfire on the West Coast.
From the ground, many residents see large aerial water tankers roar overhead and then drop their liquid load of fire retardant on flames leaping skyward toward them. But far below are the hundreds of ground crews hacking fire breaks and setting back fires. It’s not as glamorous as the tanker pilots’ work, but it’s necessary to douse hot spots that could flare up again.
Toiling in 100-degree heat under an unrelenting sun and clad in thick turn-out gear, firefighters must haul heavy hoses and other equipment for long treks through dense brush. It’s no picnic.
The bottom line is that these men and women are the key defense against the spread of wildfires that threaten the region every year.
They must be commended for their hard work and praised for protecting life and property.
It’s up to the public to honor these first responders and help investigators find the arsonists responsible for so many of the area’s wildfires, possibly including the Gap Fire.