Editorial: Not if, but when during fire season

Frankton Road.

Dollar Lake.


Gnarl Ridge.

The names would read like a travelogue of historic and quirky destinations in the Gorge, except that most of us recall that the names stand for something far more terrifying:

Destructive wildfires.

These were the place names given to blazes that happened locally in the past five years or so, damaging or threatening grassland, forests and property.

July 4 brings the five-year anniversary of the Frankton fire, in fact.

With July 4 comes the double-whammy of dry ground fuels and fireworks.

Don’t be deceived by the Ranger District fire danger level pointing to “low” and the green section of the highway sign.

“Fire season is dependent on weather, and in the Gorge, that is variable,” said West Side Fire Marshal Jim Trammell. “That doesn’t mean we shouldn’t be prepared. It’s not if, it’s when we have another fire similar to the Microwave Fire of two years ago.”

Kiel Nairns, Forest Officer for the Oregon Department of Forestry, noted that so far, fire season looks about average for this time of year. “The recent rain we’ve had has put us back a little bit as far as extreme fire potential,” said Nairns. “But there’s potential for one large fire in the area.”

Keep in mind creating a 30-foot “defensible space,” free of dead vegetation, around all structures. All local fire agencies are happy to assist in advising people on how to do this, and other prevention steps.

Keep your local firefighters busy with calm conversations in your yard where they carry a clipboard and not a hose.

With July 4 comes increased fire risk. We’re already hearing the fireworks go off; by the sound of them, they are the more powerful illegal out of state varieties probably purchased as close as Bingen just across the river.

It’s not alarmist to point to the specter of the terrible blazes in western Colorado, and remember the “4 BE’S” as described on page B4.

Be Responsible

(Dispose of used fireworks and debris properly.)

Be Safe

(Never re-light “dud” fireworks; soak them in a bucket of water.)

Be Prepared:

(Place pets indoors, Always have water handy.)

Be Aware:

(Fireworks are prohibited on all beaches, city and county parks, state parks, and state and federal forest land.)

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Parkdale third graders sing "12 Disaster Days of Christmas"

Welcome to your sing-able Christmas gift list. What follows is an emergency rendition of “12 Days of Christmas” – for outfitting your home or car in case of snow storm, earthquake, flood or other emergency. Read it as a simple list, or sing it to the tune of “12 Days” – you know, as in “ … and a partridge in a pear tree…” Not to make light of it, but the song is a familiar framework for a set of gift ideas that you could consider gathering together, even if the recipient already owns items such as a bunch of coats, tire chains and flashlights. Stores throughout the Gorge are stocked up on all these items. Buying all 12 days might be prohibitive, but here are three ideas for checking any of the dozen off your list (notations follow, 1-12.) The gift items needed to stay warm, dry and safe are also coded to suggest items in your abode (A) in your car (C) or both (B). 12 Gallons of Water (A) 11 Family meals (B) 10 Cans of propane (A) 9 Hygiene bags (B) 8 Packs of batteries (A) 7 Spare coats (B) 6 Bright red flares (C) 5 Cozy blankets (B) 4 Tire chains (C) 3 Flashlights (B) 2 cell phone chargers (B) 1 And a crush-proof first aid kit (B) Price ranges? Here’s a few quotes for days Three, Two, Four and Nine: n A family gift of flashlights (three will run $15-30, Hood River Supply, Tum-A-Lum) n Cell phone chargers (two will run $30-60) n Tire chains (basic set, $30, Les Schwab, returnable if unused for the winter) n Family meals ($100 or so should cover the basics for three or four reasonably well-fed days) n The home kit should be kept in a handy place near an exit, and remember that water needs to be replenished every few months. If you have a solid first aid kit already, switch out the gift idea with “and-a-sto-o-u-t- tub-for it-all …” Otherwise, it’s a case of assembling your home or car kits and making sure all members of the family know what the resources are and how to use them (ie flares and propane). Emergency situations are at worst life-threatening, at best deeply uncomfortable if you and your family are left without power for an extended period, or traveling and find yourself in a situation where you need to wait out a storm, lengthy traffic delay, or other crisis. Notes on the 12 gift ideas: 12 – Gallons of water: that’s one per person in a four-member family to last for three days, the recommended minimum to be prepared for utility outages. 11 – Easy-open packaged goods, energy bars, dried food and nuts are good things to include for nutrition. Think of what your family of four needs for three days to stay fortified and hydrated (see number 12). Can-opener also recommended 10 – If you have a propane camping stove, keep extra fuel handy. 9 – Hygiene bags: put packaged moistened towelettes, toilet paper, and plastic ties in large garbage bags (for personal sanitation) Resource list courtesy of Hood River County Emergency Management, Barbara Ayers, manager/ 541-386-1213. The county also reminds residents to Get a Kit, Make A Plan to connect your family if separated, and Stay Informed. See www.co.hood-river.or.us to opt-in for citizen alerts. Enlarge

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