Thursday, July 30, 2015

Smoke Gets In Your Eyes

My friend Cheryl had a couple of pretty anxious days earlier this week when her husband and eldest teenage son were gone, battling the fires raging across the dry plains of Millville, not far from their home. Every time her loved ones go out on a fire call she is understandably nerve-wracked, fearing the worst, hoping for the best, scared for her mate and progeny when they volunteer to go out and fight the flames every time something flares up near Millville.

I've never known what that feels like, but my own 19 year old stepson has now decided that this is his calling as well, and pretty soon he'll be going into the Shasta College Fire Technology program, maybe even studying along with Cheryl's sons as they train in the program.

As a resident of Northern California during the fire season, I know we need all the trained firefighters we can get right now. And I'm thankful for their bravery, and thankful that we have a great training institution.  But as mothers, we already worry about our kids playing with fire. Now to have them working and fighting with fire scares the crap out of us. I worry about them suffering from heat exhaustion, burns, lack of sleep and dehydration.

So much to worry about.

And so much to be thankful for. Our firefighters have been going nonstop for 2 days now, working on no less than 9 fires that have broken out in Shasta County. Three homes have burned so far, but hundreds have been saved. The China Fire could have easily burned down as many homes as the Clover Fire did a few years ago, so I'm kind of feeling like we dodged a bullet this week.

I also feel like I should point out that it's not lost on me how vigilant and responsive our region's fire fighting agencies have already been this summer. I can't even count on all my fingers the little fires that have started - every one of them by reckless or malicious human beings, many of them in illegal encampments - that could've taken out entire neighborhoods, our beautiful Caldwell Park and even a train trestle, but didn't. But it easily could've gone that way if our fire fighters weren't at the absolute top of their game and ready to roll.

While I'm handing out good guy points, a tip of the hat goes to each watchful citizen who understands the potential threat of every little wisp of smoke, and doesn't waste any time calling it in. Because of people like you, the job of protecting our community has been made somewhat easier.

So while Cheryl's entire family, my stepson, and all the other brave young men & women of Northern California are out there putting their lives on the line to pounce on fires before they burn down entire neighborhoods, I'd like to remind everyone - during the hottest friggin' week of the year - to stay safe, and not do any of those things that people shouldn't do when the temperatures are in the triple digits and the humidity is in the single digits.

  • DONT play with matches or toss your cigarette butts. That's how a motel on North Market a few years ago lost 7 guest rooms.
  • DONT set off fireworks. A medical office burned on the 4th of July two years ago in Redding as a result of this.
  • DONT play with matches. Kids playing with matches caused a fire that burned down a 6-plex and almost took down Enterprise High School with it a few years ago.
  • DONT mow your lawn unless you know there's no rocks in the grass….and don't do it without having a water source nearby. Remember the Bear Fire?
  • DONT tow a trailer or a boat with a chain that's dragging & might set off sparks. That's believed to be the cause of the big Yosemite Fire not long ago.
  • DONT drive your car or motorcycle through the dry brush, and if you have a catalytic converter and your car is running rough, get it checked out immediately. A faulty catalytic converter started a fire on Benton Airpark Drive a few years ago that almost burned down the SHASCOM dispatch center.

But DO click on the play arrow below & take a listen to today's Smoke Gets In Your Eyes Playlist on Spotify. By the way, this playlist - the entire thing - was put together through suggestions from loyal Mistress of the Mix readers & commenters. There have been a couple of columns in the past dedicated to the fires that dominate our Northstate summers, and I've received so many great song suggestions that didn't make it into my original playlist, that this one is yours and yours only (although I did switch up the performers a bit, just to keep things interesting.) If you've got a song suggestion that you don't see here, please leave it in the comments, because one thing I'm sure of as long as I'm living in Shasta County, and as long as I'm the Mistress of the Mix, there will be more fires. So stay in the game, keep your eyes open, and keep your cell phones handy.

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