Friday Jul 20 2012
Another View: Fire reminds us of what to be grateful for
By: Jenifer Gee, Journal editor
This week and last our coverage was dominated by the Robbers Fire. This fire was threatening and no doubt caused fear for evacuated homeowners. We also extend our sympathies to the owners of the destroyed home and outbuildings. Fortunately there was no loss of life to date and injuries remained relatively minor and low, considering there were 12 reported firefighter injuries out of the more than 2,000 who responded. Driving to and from home to work every day for the past week or so I?ve come across a fire engine every time. I said a quiet thank you to the crew on board or gave a wave if it was safe to do so and carried on. My house has at various times smelled like a campfire as smoke from the large blaze drifted my way, but I reminded myself that I?m lucky to come home every night. Evacuees in Foresthill had to wait anxiously for a week. Firefighters worked 24-hour shifts to contain the 2,650 acres of burning forest in steep terrain and hot conditions. Yes, they get paid to and sign up for that work. However, I for one have not chosen that career path so I?m grateful for the men and women who do. At the Journal we documented fire crews? difficulties as access allowed. Reporter Gus Thomson and photographers Michael Kirby and Kim Palaferri made trips up to Foresthill just about every day since the fire started July 11. They captured helicopter crews above and hand crews below dousing hot spots and cutting large trees on steep slopes to make a fire break. As a member of the media, you have a chance to get a glimpse of what it?s like in someone else?s shoes and you experience for a short time the story outside of the photo and article. There are sometimes little things that reporters and photographers see that don?t quite make into our coverage. For instance, Michael came back one day and said they had been covered in beetles. He said he didn?t know how the fire crews dealt with that constant nuisance on top of all of the other extreme conditions they were fighting. It?s small and big experiences like that that help shape the coverage of a news event. A reporter and photographer see, smell and feel the scene and then reflect that in their work. I think that Gus, Michael and Kim did just that this past week or so to share with readers what crews were doing in the rural, steep canyon area to protect the community from the fire. I?m proud of their work and the work of the rest of our staff who wrote other fire related stories and kept our website up to date to give the community the latest information about that large cloud of smoke looming in the distance. But of course, all of the appreciation and thanks goes to the firefighters, commanders, support staff and volunteers who worked on the Robbers Fire. There were also several businesses who donated food and neighbors posted up a plethora of handmade thank you signs for firefighters. The next chapter of the fire begins now that Cal Fire has made an arrest of 28-year-old Sacramento resident Bryon Mason for allegedly starting the 2,650 acre blaze. It will be up to the court system to decide whether Mason is guilty or not and what kind justice there will be for taxpayers, residents and the firefighting community. We will continue to cover that story as it unfolds. An emergency, disaster or tragedy is never wanted or anything to be thankful for, but a community that rallies to help one another and remains concerned about the welfare of others is. I believe I can speak on behalf of our editorial staff in that we are grateful to cover a community that cares.