A thank you to all those that work so hard to stop fires from getting out of control.
I am drafting this post at a little after noon on the 4th., i.e. early afternoon yesterday.
It is yet another dry, hot day in a long run of hot, dry days. Our local online weather service, GrantsPassWeather.com, informs me that the temperature this afternoon (i.e. yesterday) is forecast to be a high of 93 deg F. or 34 deg C. We last had monthly rain totals of more than an inch back in March. At the top of the home page of Grants Pass Weather is a bold red banner proclaiming a Red Flag Warning for three counties: Jackson, Josephine and Eastern Curry. We live in Josephine County and clicking that banner reveals:
…RED FLAG WARNING REMAINS IN EFFECT UNTIL 10 PM PDT THIS EVENING FOR COMBINATION OF STRONG WINDS AND LOW RELATIVE HUMIDITIES FOR FIRE WEATHER ZONES 280…281…617…619…620…621…622 AND 623…
* AFFECTED AREA: FIRE WEATHER ZONES 80…281…617…619…620…621…622 AND 623.
* HUMIDITY…MINIMUM RELATIVE HUMIDITY AT 10 TO 20 PERCENT FOLLOWED BY RECOVERIES TONIGHT AT 20 TO 40 PERCENT.
* WIND…NORTHEAST TO EAST WINDS 10 TO 20 MPH THROUGH THIS EVENING THEN 5 TO 15 MPH OVERNIGHT.
* IMPACTS…POSSIBLE PLUME DOMINATED BEHAVIOR ON ACTIVE FIRES AS STRONG WINDS AND LOW RELATIVE HUMIDITIES THROUGH THIS EVENING WILL CAUSE FIRES TO SPREAD VERY RAPIDLY.
* VIEW THE HAZARD AREA IN DETAIL AT HTTP://GO.USA.GOV/ZYV5
STRONG WINDS AND LOW RELATIVE HUMIDITIES WILL CAUSE FIRES TO SPREAD VERY RAPIDLY.
Does this focus the mind? You bet! The trees in the foreground of the above photograph are within our property. Our house is surrounded by tall oaks, pines and fir trees.
Now stay with me through what, at first, may seem like a disconnected change of topic.
Long, long time ago Jean met Ira Weisenfeld, a young vet making his way in the world. Jean’s passion for rescuing feral street dogs meant that she was a more active user of a vet’s services than the average pet owner. Jean and Ira became very good friends.
Earlier on this year, we had the pleasure of the company of Ira’s daughter, Amber, who came to see us with the man in her life, Ben Elkind.
Fast forward to the 1st September and Amber sent us the following email:
Hello Paul and Jean!
Hope you guys are doing well. Here is a BBC story about smokejumpers in Redding, CA where Ben works, he is interviewed too. Thought you might like it! Hope you had a wonderful summer. I just finished the boundary water canoe trip with Dad, it was very good.
That BBC story explains:
Forest fires kept at bay in US by elite ‘smokejumpers’
26 August 2014 Last updated at 00:48 BST
The drought that has gripped much of the American West shows no sign of abating – yet despite the tinder-box conditions, so far less land in the region has been lost to wildfires in 2014 than in recent years.
That is partly due to an aggressive strategy to stop smaller forest fires before they become too big to handle.
At the frontline of this effort are the smokejumpers, airborne firefighters who parachute into the wilderness to get the blazes under control.
It’s a dangerous job for an elite group of highly-trained men and women. The BBC spoke to three smokejumpers – Ben Elkind, Gretchen Stumhofer and Luis Gomez – at their base in Redding, California.
Produced by the BBC’s Jack Garland.
Additional footage courtesy of Ben Elkind and Tye Erwin
Here is that film report.