Monday, August 24, 2015

My Home State on Fire


If you haven't been under a rock for a couple weeks you probably know about all the fires in the Pacific Northwest. Washington State has has a lot of attention as some of those fires are particularly large and three firefighters were killed last week battling one.

What you may NOT know is every firefighter in the US is already working overtime. There is no more internal capacity available. So KINDLY, Canada, Australia and New Zealand have sent help.

For an idea of how bad this is I took a screen shot from THIS mapping website—it is an official one—it is the same one I use professionally to pull mapping information and they are updating it regularly. Look at all the fires in Northern Idaho.

The red spots are satellite-observed hot spots, even if a fire hasn't been formally marked. My parents are in Moscow, Idaho, which is about 30 miles above Lewiston on this map (about where Idaho, Washington and Oregon all meet) and about 30 miles from the nearest fire which is in Harvard, Idaho, but because the fires are in every direction, the air quality is horrible—full of smoke. Wear a mask if you go outside, bad.

My friend Nancy took a picture yesterday and posed it with one from 5 years ago (images used with her permission), same time of day, same “official weather” (clear) were it not fr the fires.


July 2009 8am
That dome in the middle is the University of Idaho's Kibbie Dome where they play football. It's a pretty little town, isn't it? Farmland in every direction.

Then this picture taken from the same exact spot (she thinks the smudge in the middle was a bug, but the difference is striking, regardless) Same weather forecast except the one below is meant to be cloud-free. In addition to the smoke, you ca see how much drier the grass is below--how much higher the hazard potential.

August 23, 2015 8:30am

I remember an earthquake recently that got me into a conversation on natural disasters and I always think of Idaho as a place that doesn't really have them. This is a startling reminder that in fact they do.

Homes have been lost. People have evacuated. It is heartbreaking that people with herds of cows or horses sometimes just have to open gates and hope for the best because they don't have means to move them.

A friend of mine played local hero and set a time and threw out an invitation for people to donate whatever they could. On Friday they took 1000 bottles of water, a bunch of Gatorade and power bars, and delivered them to Kamiah, Idaho (Thanks, Reen!)—the people coordinating firefighters were very appreciative, for the water especially. I feel badly for being too far to help tangibly and am worried about family and friends. And SO SAD. For all my mocking Idaho's politics, it is one of the prettiest and most varied states anywhere, and it is devastating to think of the thousands and thousands of acres of forests that will be gone for decades.

If everybody could join your karmic energies, whether prayers or meditation or thoughts... however you do it, and send thoughts of rain, it would definitely be appreciated.


In Related Spirit, Sort of...

Idaho is an underappreciated place and my cousin's cousins, Cameron (left) and James, are spearheading a TV show related... two brothers trying to save their farm. The trailer is funny and the idea is fresh and it feels very much like home. If you have the ability, they are doing an Indiegogo funding of it. It's called Idaho Boys.

18 comments:

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Hart - I've been noting when I hear about the fires over here - there seem to be a great many of them - and sadly some set by idiots .... my thoughts to you, but more importantly those near the fires and who may be affected by them. So difficult for one all ...all the best - Hilary

Mason Canyon said...

Hart, such a terrible loss in human lives, natural resources and just plain items people will never be able to replace. The two photos say it so well and are a great reminder how easily things can be lost.

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

That is some serious smoke. Prayers for the families and all the firefighters.

Elizabeth Spann Craig said...

Sorry about all the fires! I saw on the news that hopefully El Nino (is it Nino or Nina this time?) is supposed to send some relief at some point...not in time for these fires, but maybe can prevent others? Hope things start looking up soon.

T. Powell Coltrin said...

Fires are scary. I am always on edge when I see fires burning out of control, in the news. It has to be frightening not knowing if your house is the next one going up in smoke.

Madilyn Quinn said...

Wow, that's a stark difference! I didn't realize the fires were that bad! I'm sending good vibes and hopes for rain :/

Chrys Fey said...

All of those fires...that's scary. I remember when, in years past, FL was like that. I almost lost my home once when fires were popping up everywhere. It's great that Canada, Australia and New Zealand have sent help. Wow! That is a lot of smoke. Not good to breathe and it's impossible to keep the smell of entering the house. I am praying for rain and relief.

Susan Gourley/Kelley said...

I have a sister living in Washington State. It's really bad in all the states out there. Our local firefighters have been cycling out and back for a while now.
Susan Says

Arlee Bird said...

I was just telling my wife last week when we were passing through the lower part of Idaho that it was one of the states I'd seriously consider moving to if we didn't have the location of our children and families to think about. I love Couer d'Alene especially.

Hope the fire situation gets under control quickly. We're more used to this sort of thing down Los Angeles way.

Arlee Bird
A to Z Challenge Co-host
Tossing It Out

Terra said...

What a terrible fire situation. I think the smoke saturated air would make breathing difficult, in addition to the danger and devastation. I am praying for rain for that area and for where I live in California.
Best wishes for your relatives and their tv show idea.

Andrew Leon said...

We're pretty used to smoke-filled skies out here in CA during the summer. It seems so weird to me that there are these fires in other places, right now.

Liz A. said...

Yes, I did hear about the fires. When it gets that smoky... But eventually all the fires will get put out (I hope!), and the air will clear. It's miserable now. I wish the firefighters all the luck they can handle.

Helena said...

We've lucked out this year in Colorado with lots of rain, but even our air is hazy from the fires in Idaho and Washington and California, which tells us how vast and bad the fires there are. I hope your family stays safe, Hart, and that a pounding hard rain comes soon.

Melissa Sugar said...

HI Hart, sending good thoughts, prayers and wishes for rain. I know you are worried about family and I feel terrible for you. The old saying "A picture paints a thousand words," has never meant more to me than this moment. Viewing your friend's photo, the the exact same place prior to the fire and smoke and now, truly depicts how horrid the situation is. I'm praying for the safety of your family and friends and for massive rain.

Sarah Ahiers said...

It just depresses the hell out of me. That this is going to become our new normal, that this is what we've done to our planet, and we never fixed it when we could because we just didn't care.

Misha Gericke said...

As someone who's grown up on farms, I'm very familiar with how bad it can be when a fire rages out of control. Sending prayers up or you.

Yolanda Renee said...

Such a lovely state, and my former home for 17 years, Washington. Lacey to be exact. Miss it terribly, but so horrid to watch any part of it burn. I hope rain is coming soon, but eat of the mountains that's not the usual.
Be safe, wishing you and yours rain and fair weather to knock it down and completely out!

Vapid Vixen said...

Oh man! That photo really shows the difference. So scary.