This year is on pace to be the worst season of wildfires in the history of the state of California. Even before hitting August, the usual midpoint for fire season, the state had already seen the largest complex fire in its history. Despite the immense number of firefighting resources combatting the flames, the Carr and Mendocino fires alone have already destroyed more than half a million acres and caused nearly $650 million dollars in damage to infrastructure, communities, and they continue to burn. So, the call goes out. And thousands of linemen from across the country leave their families to help those in need.
Despite these incredible human efforts, extinguishing a fire only marks the beginning of an incredibly arduous recovery process. Even if a community manages to be spared from direct contact with the fire, it’s very likely they lose access to power due to the infrastructure damage in surrounding areas. This equates to widespread devastation with tens of thousands of people left without power and local utility workers overwhelmed with the need to rebuild their communities.
Picture caption: Thomas fire caused more than $2,000,000,000 (That’s billion, with a ‘B’) in damage to communities, destroying infrastructure and more than 1000 buildings, many of which were families’ homes.
In addition, a silent threat exists for lineman, emergency, and relief crews. Just because a fire has moved out of an area, it doesn’t mean the danger has as well. No structure can be trusted after being exposed to the intense heat of the California flames. The rebuilding process can just as easily take a life as the fire itself.
Last week, the Carr Fire claimed its seventh victim; a young lineman’s life was cut short by a vehicle accident caused by terrain compromised by the fire.
During the Thomas Fire last year, Mike Bean, a member of our community sent us this humbling footage (below) of the restoration work he and his team were doing during the fire. Justin Kropp, one of the brave linemen featured in the video, would lose his life in the line of duty just weeks later.
Most of the time when we think of wildfires, the situation seems bleak and hopeless. All we see on TV are images of raging flames and smoke and helicopters… What truly deserves our attention are the people coming to the aid of these affected communities. They leave their own families and risk their lives to help total strangers in their darkest hour. We are forever grateful to all of these people. We’d like to close this blog with a quote from the late Fred Rogers.
Mr. Rogers often told this story about when he was a boy and would see scary things on the news:
“My mother would say to me, ‘Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.’ To this day, especially in times of disaster, I remember my mother’s words, and I am always comforted by realizing that there are still so many helpers — so many caring people in this world.”
To Justin and all the other helpers out there, thank you.
Between now and September 1st, 15% of purchases made using promo code: CA18FIRE will be donated to the wildfire recovery effort.