As the person who has the responsibility of posting many of the “Breaking News” alerts on the Republic-Times website, I have to say the past few weeks have been unnecessarily busy. Not that I mind posting breaking news… I actually love that aspect of my job, but not when it’s is the exact same subject each occurrence with only a different address.
I’ll give a hint… see if this sounds familiar: “Breaking News: Waterloo fire responding to a brush fire at (insert address here).”
Obviously I’m talking about the great brush fire outbreak of 2014 across Monroe County, which has taken place for two weeks in a row now. It’s hard for me to wrap my brain around why this is such a problem. And it’s not just us — counties all around the region have experienced the same misfortune during the past few weeks.
Here’s the deal. For the past several weeks, the National Weather Service has issued “Red Flag” warnings for our area. These are also known as “Fire Weather” warnings. This information has been broadcast throughout the internet, TV and local print publications. Short of living off the grid, in a cave, there is no possible way you haven’t heard this news.
So, that must mean many people ignore this seemingly valuable information. Which, look, I sort of understand… not everyone abides by what someone else is advising them to do. But if you think you’re up for ignoring official warnings from scientists who study the atmosphere, which are obviously put out for your own good, then at the very least you’re going to need to make sure you’ve stopped by the “common sense store” and stocked up.
Let me break it down. It’s a nice day, and the sun is shining. Humidity is extremely low. There hasn’t been any significant precipitation on the ground for weeks. The wind has blown fiercely every single day. It practically couldn’t be any drier outside. There have been hundreds of brush and field fires in our general area. Shouldn’t that type of information mean something to most people?
Our volunteer firefighters, in all of our communities, are hard-working folks. They love their volunteer fire jobs, I’m sure of it. But I’m willing to bet that when they have to spend their entire weekend putting out brush fires across the county, back-to-back, all day long, that they don’t exactly come home with a big smile on their face.
Let’s give these guys a break. Resources are maxed when this happens, and Heaven forbid we have a serious structure fire in town while the guys are out battling a field fire caused by a run-away ember from a burn barrel.
Just think about it.