Big Fire, Little Fire

Photo of smokey skies in Seattle.

Seattle skies show smoke blown in from Central Washington fires.

I’ve spent a lot of time this past month exploring sites like http://www.wildlandfire.com/ to see exactly what part of the United States is on fire at the moment. And I’ve been having some weird thoughts. You see, when you look at the tiny little fire icon on a map, it doesn’t seem real. It just looks like a tiny little baby fire, the sort that you could snuff out with a wet towel or a fire extinguisher.

So then I click on the tiny baby fire icon to find out more information. Let’s say, for example, the More Info tells me the fire is 12 acres big and has been burning for a month. It tells me the resources on hand are 19 fire engines, and at least 30 firefighters. I start wondering how 19 fire engines and 30 firefighters have still not put out a 12 acre fire after a month.

I get silly ideas, like: why don’t the residents of the nearby city do a bucket brigade? Why don’t I just drive 6 hours to the fire and put it out myself? With, you know, my mental willpower, rain stick, and a whole lot of spit.

  • But then I think about how busy the map makers must be this time of year, trying to keep maps like this updated.
  • I think about how it’s likely by now the fire has in fact been contained even though the website doesn’t say so.
  • I think of how many firefighters are working hard out there.
  • I think of how resources are likely being diverted to fight the significantly larger fires.
  • I think of how many firefighters have died fighting the fires this year.

And I’m grateful so many people are making such a strong effort to put out all the fires, big and small.

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