Pixel Tracker

Tuesday, February 19 , 2019, 12:21 pm | Fair 54º

 
 
 
 

Mike Mingee: What You Can Learn from Recent Wildfires

In the last few days looking over my emails, I received two correspondences that created a connection that caused me to take the time to write this opinion.

Mingee
Mike Mingee

The first email was titled “Area Fuel Moistures at 10 Year Low.” Your Forest Service protects your forest in many ways. It is by no haphazard circumstance that your federal firefighting force staffs and places resources at particular locations at particular times of the year. The USFS Predictive Service forecasts where the next fire will take place — with, may I add, considerable and amazing accuracy. Its previous predictions have now stated the obvious.

The report says that the fuels (vegetation) in our region are dry, dry, dry. That fact became self-evident a few nights ago along the bluffs south of Summerland. That’s when an ember from a beach fire ignited the entire hillside — without any wind or excessive heat, and in the cool and moist air of 9 p.m. The is the same hillside vegetation that normally withstands the summer heat and drought.

The second correspondence was titled “Yarnell Was Unready for Fire.” The piece published in the Los Angeles Times was subtitled: “Most building in the Arizona town did not have the nearby growth cleared.”

This community outside of Prescott, Ariz., will now be infamous for the human toll taken while hotshot fire crws worked to save the surrounding vegetation and town.

As a 37-year veteran of the California Fire Service, I’ve heard of far too many young men and women dying in similar circumstances decade after decade. Mann Gulch, Storm King, Thirty Mile, Esperanza and now Yarnell.

Put bluntly from a fire chief’s perspective, no forest and no building is worth the loss of life we continue to experience. Stated a little more bluntly and less politically correct, a fire chief will not send men and women to their death to protect things that will either regrow or rebuild. If your son or daughter were doing this job, wouldn’t you expect their leaders to believe the same?

So what’s in this message for you, southern Santa Barbara County residents? It is simple. First, don’t do foolish things with fire. Prepare now because when, not if, the wildfire comes, your local fire personnel will do their very best and bravely provide those vital services you pay for with your hard-earned tax money. But we are going to avoid sending any more men and women to their deaths.

The most important steps taken to ensure your property survives a wildfire is not assuming these brave men and women will be there, but making your home defensible and fire-resistive now.

Information on how to do this is available on your fire department website under “Ready Set Go” or through your local fire department fire prevention staff.

— Mike Mingee is a 37-year veteran of the California Fire Service and is currently the fire chief of the Carpinteria-Summerland Fire Protection District.

Talk to Us!

Please take Noozhawk's audience survey to help us understand what you expect — and want — from us. It'll take you just a few minutes. Thank you!

Get Started >

Support Noozhawk Today

You are an important ally in our mission to deliver clear, objective, high-quality professional news reporting for Santa Barbara, Goleta and the rest of Santa Barbara County. Join the Hawks Club today to help keep Noozhawk soaring.

We offer four membership levels: $5 a month, $10 a month, $25 a month or $1 a week. Payments can be made using a credit card, Apple Pay or Google Pay, or click here for information on recurring credit-card payments and a mailing address for checks.

Thank you for your vital support.

Become a Noozhawk Supporter

First name
Last name
Email
Select your monthly membership
Or choose an annual membership
×

Payment Information

Membership Subscription

You are enrolling in . Thank you for joining the Hawks Club.

Payment Method

Pay by Credit Card:

Mastercard, Visa, American Express, Discover
One click only, please!

Pay with Apple Pay or Google Pay:

Noozhawk partners with Stripe to provide secure invoicing and payments processing.
You may cancel your membership at any time by sending an email to .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

  • Ask
  • Vote
  • Investigate
  • Answer

Noozhawk Asks: What’s Your Question?

Welcome to Noozhawk Asks, a new feature in which you ask the questions, you help decide what Noozhawk investigates, and you work with us to find the answers.

Here’s how it works: You share your questions with us in the nearby box. In some cases, we may work with you to find the answers. In others, we may ask you to vote on your top choices to help us narrow the scope. And we’ll be regularly asking you for your feedback on a specific issue or topic.

We also expect to work together with the reader who asked the winning questions to find the answer together. Noozhawk’s objective is to come at questions from a place of curiosity and openness, and we believe a transparent collaboration is the key to achieve it.

The results of our investigation will be published here in this Noozhawk Asks section. Once or twice a month, we plan to do a review of what was asked and answered.

Thanks for asking!

Click Here to Get Started >

Reader Comments

Noozhawk is no longer accepting reader comments on our articles. Click here for the announcement. Readers are instead invited to submit letters to the editor by emailing them to [email protected]. Please provide your full name and community, as well as contact information for verification purposes only.

Daily Noozhawk

Subscribe to Noozhawk's A.M. Report, our free e-Bulletin sent out every day at 4:15 a.m. with Noozhawk's top stories, hand-picked by the editors.

Sign Up Now >