It’s June 16 and Fire Season is in full swing! Some wildfires are caused by lightning strikes, some by careless humans, and some, started by forest and fire management teams, are “controlled burns.” (It escapes me how a wildfire can be controlled in hot, dry, windy weather– but I am thankfully not a fire fighter.)
Fortunately the 16-odd wildfires currently burning in New Mexico and Arizona are grassland and forest understory (the brush, pine cones, and debris beneath taller trees), rather than burning buildings and toxic substances, so the smoke is mostly “clean.” But clean or not, smoke is no joke.
However, you can protect your health and that of your family members and pets by following the 5-3-1 Mile Rule. When in doubt, stay inside!
Another important point is to be aware of the tendency of fire in Urban/Wildland Interface areas to defeat all efforts at containment and destroy entire neighborhoods. In 2009 this happened to several urban California communities.
A homeowner needs to be sure that there is a substantial weed-, brush-, and tinder-free space around all houses and outbuildings. In many states this is mandated by law and the amount of space is clearly defined.
Conifers are especially dangerous because when on fire, the resin inside the tree ignites and explodes, causing the burning conifer to hurl fireballs surprisingly great distances, thus igniting surrounding trees and homes. (Not that I’m going to cut down my two back yard junipers, but I am careful to rake up all the dead grasses and fallen twigs and branches from beneath them, and water the area regularly to keep it from becoming too dry.)
Whether the wildfire is far away or close to home, it’s sensible to keep updated on its progress. Remember, fire is one of those elements with potential for great good and great harm. It demands our respect!
(Thanks to J.G. Pausas for the riveting photo!)