Friday, August 30, 2013

Our community at it's finest

American Fire - Photo by Jason
As you may know, our community has been dealing with one of California's largest wildfires in recorded history.  Our homes and our history have been threatened with distruction for the past seven days and just now we are feeling some relief.  The fire creeped within a mile or so from the community where I grew up and where many of my friends and family live today.  We were on an evacuation advisory for just under a week and smoke is still thick and painful.  It is not only physically painful to myself, causing some majorly uncomfortable coughing spells, but it is also an emotionally painful sign of the devistation of the beautiful National Forest the sits just a few miles from my front yard.
This past week has been incredibly challenging because as the fire raged closer and closer to our home, Jason was away fighting another fire.  It was tough for Jason and myself.  He wanted desperately to be home, defending our community from this inferno but could not leave another community he committed to defend.
I have been left behind many times in the past 14 fire seasons with Jason, waiting and worrying but this fire and this trip was different.  There are a few reasons.  Firstly, the tradgedy of the 19 firefighters lost in Arizona weighs heavily on my heart as well as on the heart of every man and woman who stands at the fire's edge, defending our homes and our lands.  It is going to take a long time for that to not be one of the first things that all the fire fighters think about when they come upon an active fire.  Secondly, the thick smoke that has been blanketing our community is a reminder of how it must be every day on the fire lines.  I wake up and think how miserable this smoke is and what a badass my husband is for dealing with this all the time and never, truely never, complains.  He always just says it is part of the job.  Lastly, I have never been more proud of him.  I have seen photos and news shots of people standing on the side of the road holding signs, thanking him for his hard work and for saving their homes, but until now I didn't really understand it.  I know he was away, not yet working on this "Rim" fire, but he is out there working his butt off, in the sun, in the dirt, in the smoke, hot, sweaty, hungry, tired, with achy feet and back, and still never complains.  He just gets up and does it again the next day.  He is a hard working man and I honestly can say I have never been more proud to say that I am married to a bad ass "Forestry Technician". 

American Fire - Photo by Jason

This fire has once again shown me how proud I am to live in this community.  When we were struggling with Ruby's upcoming surgery and I was terrified of what could be, this community surrounded me and my family with love and support like we have never seen.  What ever we needed they/you were there to provide.  It was the beginning of a new found respect for this community like I could have never known without the adversity we faced. 
And now, with this fire, I have seen our community come together, no questions asked, dropping everything they had going on to show love and support to the men and women who put their lives on hold to defend our homes.  I know I am biased because of the man in my life, but I want to remind our community how many more men and women are still out there, standing next to the flames, running chainsaws, putting in dozer line, using nothing but a shovel and a rake and the muscles in their backs to put this fire out.  It is still moving and will be for a while.  Our community has been amazing to thank the firemen/women in the cities and towns but please remember those who have been on the fire line this entire time.  You probably haven't seen them because they haven't left the fire and basecamp.  US Forest Service and CalFire folks have been working hard so please be sure to thank them too. This fire is far from over.

This photo is totally unrelated but I thought it was cute.