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1998 Flagler County Fire - flickr

The Colorado Springs wildfire has been all over the news of late.   32000 people have been forced to evacuate the area. Even our own WendyDavis. Having ones home, whatever it maybe, threatened by fire is something you have to experience first hand – like other such events – to really appreciate it.   A total loss of control combined with fear and helplessness.

Before moving up to Cleveland last year, I lived in Central Florida for over 30 years and South West Florida before that. Only twice have I had the experience of a brush fire come close. The first time in Naples – not so close and under control fairly quickly. The second time just a year before I moved. That time very, very close.

Florida’s fire season runs roughly from the end of February through June. In really dry years it can run through July. As it did in 1998 when it seem like the entire state was on fire.  The biggest was in Flagler County just south of Jacksonville.  Starting west of I95 by a mile or so and eventually jumping the interstate (6 lanes with a large median) and threatening Flagler Beach where they even had to evacuate the local hospital.  I remember the coverage was 24/7 on the local channels.  Fires jump by having the wind carry embers and high winds can carry them great distances.

Brush fires are part of the natural ecology of Florida. Cleaning out the brush and grasses, fallen trees, keeping the saw palmettos at bay and the heat from the smoke is what causes the the pine cones to open and drop their seeds.  But people build in the forests and do not like the smoke and stuff from brush fires and scheduled burns, so there are fire suppression efforts and the brush gets out of control. So when a brush fire does occur, it can quickly get out of hand and turn into a wildfire. Especially during a very hot dry fire season like that of 1998 in Florida or this year in Colorado.

With hot dry conditions it does not take much to ignite a brush fire. A small spark is all that is necessary. I know because a year before I moved, I came very close to losing the apartment building I lived in when a brush fire was ignited in the wooded area behind it.  Burning the grass up to the buildings and melting the siding.

Coming home and seeing the brush trucks, pumpers and a tower truck pouring the equivalent of a small lake on top of, behind and on ether side of your home sweet home can be very alarming indeed.  And the fire really does not have to be very close for you to lose your home. All it takes is a flaming ember carried by the wind to land on the roof.   I was lucky and they got it out but a few minutes to late and likely not so lucky. Chatham Pines Apartment Brush Fire.

Far too often our attempts to control nature – like fires – results in far greater problems that we had initially. We need to work with it instead.

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