Paul E. Anna: High Points | AspenTimes.com

Paul E. Anna: High Points

Paul E. Anna
The Aspen Times
Aspen, CO Colorado

We have been so fortunate.

With the wet May and early June, plus the occasional heavy rains we have had almost weekly since then, our trees, shrubs, tall grasses and the like have been as moist as we could possibly hope for. To date, no serious fires have erupted and the entire valley, actually the entire state, has escaped the kinds of carnage that Glenwood Springs felt in the hot dry summers of 1994 and 2002.

So far.

Had it not been for the luck of the draw the blaze this past Tuesday, just a short distance from the downtown section of Basalt, could have been catastrophic. Consider the density of the homes in that hillside area and their proximity to the shops and businesses along the main drag. Had the winds whipped up like they did around 6 p.m. on Wednesday, had they blown like they did the day the fires roared through the grassy fields on the north side of Carbondale last April, had we not had the rains that we have had, who knows the trouble we may have seen.

Fortunately, thanks to the quick action of about 50 firefighters from throughout the valley, we have simply had a safe wake-up call. It is a good time for all of us to take stock and, as our favorite bear, Smokey says, “Be Prepared.” Or is that the Boy Scouts?

Regardless, now is the time to talk to your kids about playing with matches, fireworks, and anything else that may be an enticing use of flame that could get out of control. It is time to get our fire extinguishers out when we go camping and to make double, no triple, no quadruple sure that we have extinguished our campfires. It is time to use the ashtrays in our cars and not throw our cigarettes out of the windows. A lighted cigarette tossed casually out of a car window into the brush is the most likely way to start a human-caused fire.

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When the media talks about human caused fires we all immediately think, “Well, some nut with a lighter must have started it.” But the fact is most human caused fires are caused by people who had no intention of starting a fire start, they just got careless. Don’t be that human.

But even if we are fire-safe, Mother Nature can turn a hillside into a firepit with the flick of a lightning bolt. So the other reminder that we got from the flare-up in Basalt is that now is the time to get an emergency plan together with your family. No doubt, there was more than a touch of panic as moms and dads tried to sort through where the kids were, and kids wondered why their rides home from school, or soccer practice, of dance class or any number of things, were late. Establish a plan. Make sure everyone has a meeting place. Make sure everyone has a phone number to call.

So far we have dodged a bullet this fire season. Let’s all do what we can to ensure that all future bullets are simply blanks.