Diary of a mad homeowner

The trials and tribulations of fixing up a house filled with character but not much else


Wildfire coverage by the Post

If you read this blog at all you’ll know I’m rather fanatical about wildfire and a recent project on the 2013 Colorado wildfires covered and produced by the Denver Post staff is worth a look.

The Fire Line: Wildfire in Colorado

In 2013 the entire state watched as live coverage showed homes burning to the ground in mere minutes and the desperation of homeowners trying to get out and trying to get in. Out to save their lives and in to get their animals and possessions.

The video has a nice balance of expert commentary and personal anecdote but doesn’t overdo the anguish we’ve seen in so many other media productions on wildfires. We know fires kill; we know it destroys homes, memories, hopes and dreams. What we need now is solid information about what’s next for the wildfire industry, building codes, insurance costs, prevention and homeowner resources.

In the videos you can feel the heat and fear and witness up close the destruction. You can hear the sound of fear in one of the Arizona Hot Shot crew of 19 that perished in the Yarnell fire in Arizona and in the tensest seconds comes a reply from the dispatcher to not yell quite so loud. During those business-as-usual moments of conversation you knew the firefighters were dying. I’d be yelling my head off as well and tell that dispatcher to shut the fuck up and listen to what I was trying to tell him.

Colorado is Ground Zero for another year of wildfires and it’s anyone’s guess where they will hit and the message is clear – be prepared. Be prepared to lose everything.

Unless you live in the WUI you probably won’t look past the images. You’ll miss the important information and truths being spoken by wildfire experts, fire chiefs, firefighters, homeowners and authors.

The truth is if you live here, you’re in danger. So is your home, your family, your pets, you possessions. You can plan all you want but it takes just moments for fire to get out of control and once they close the roads, you can’t get back in and hopefully you won’t see your home on live TV as it burns to the ground with everything in it.

The falsest sense of security is having that 5-minute or 30-minute list taped to your fridge. Having all your papers in one place right by the front door and having pet carriers with their collars ready to go. Watch this video and you’ll see how the many steps we’re encouraged to do won’t stop a fire should it be determined to mow you down.

The piece talked only briefly about mitigation which is the one thing homeowners can do to help reduce wildfire fuels. It’s about the only thing we can do and even sometimes that’s not enough. We can’t legislate, we can’t create fire policy, we can’t even ask firefighters to go save our homes, especially since if you don’t make a considered effort to make it easier for them, they’ll pass you by and I don’t blame them at all.

The presentation says, be prepared, this will happen again due to a hundred years of policy that suppressed wildfires thereby increasing the fuel load. Every 30 years or so wildfire habitats need to burn and it’s been since the 1970s that Shadow Mountain had a fire up here so we’re due. All we can do is clear out as much as possible but again, forestry budgets are being cut and there’s one piece of wisdom that most probably will miss in the video: “It costs less to prevent fires than to fight them.”

Since so many of my Facebook friends are journalists or have “done time” in the media, it’s curious that their comments are directed towards the production of the piece, that the videos were “good” and the production was “worth a look.”

You will notice that presentations are only as good as their audio and the levels in this one aren’t consistent. Look past all that and listen to the message and see if you can hear in between the lines. Experts are telling us to be ready, it’s going to happen again.

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