Our View: Coming this Sunday: Your primer to fire, water and preparation

Our View
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The Sierra foothills are a wondrous, scenic place – rushing rivers, soaring forests, golden fields dotted with oak trees that could tell stories of years gone by and changes the land has seen. Fire and water have been two of the greatest forces on the landscape, and it’s our respect for both that we salute in a 16-page section, “Fire & Water,” which will appear in Sunday’s edition of the Auburn Journal. As we saw with swift devastation in last year’s 49 Fire, wildland fire can alter property and people’s lives in the blink of an eye. As we saw with this winter’s rains and above normal snowpack, water replenishes us and, at the same time, builds the brush and undergrowth that could erupt in flame. It’s this marriage of fire and water that we’ll share with you Sunday. There’s much to learn, including: Water is precious, and using it wisely and efficiently around the home and in the garden leaves more for everyone, according to the Placer County Water Agency. Project Canyon Safe, a grass-roots Auburn project, shows how neighborhoods banding together can have fun while preventing future fires. National Fire Prevention Week is in October, but there’s no time like now to be prepared for a fire emergency in the home. Got insurance? It’s an essential part of any disaster or fire recovery plan. Calstar can save your life, and it is right here in your own back yard. Saving your home from fire starts with what’s combustible around it. Proper planting and landscape maintenance reduces your chances of getting burned. It might be summer, but fall and winter are approaching. Pacific Gas & Electric offers tips on being prepared for the big storms. The section comes on the heels of a weeklong series of stories highlighting the one-year anniversary of the 49 Fire. While questions still linger about who started the fire and the effectiveness of the response, there’s no question the Auburn community has shown immeasurable signs of compassion, dedication and resilience. The Journal offered the story of Carlo and Emma Lujan. The couple watched their motorcycle business destroyed by a firestorm, but saw their dreams rise from the ashes with a grand opening one year later. Then there was the story of the Mays family, who shared the grief and loss of a home has been hard, but that the family grew together through the process. But the fire’s dark side was revealed, too. William McReynolds told Journal readers he has nightmares about that fateful day. Chris Whitehead, a local painting contractor, lost his painting equipment – and 47 pounds – which he attributed to the stress of being displaced. The Journal also shared the lives of dispatchers, firefighters and others who remain on the front lines between a spark and saving lives and property. Throughout these stories, a thread of endurance and optimism wove through each, emblematic of a community that came together in the face of tragedy. As Jack Kenny, a 49 Fire survivor who rebuilt his home on ash-laden property, said: “When you are walking through hell, keep on walking,” he told the Journal. “It’s hard, but we are in the now. What happened is past. Tomorrow’s a mystery, today is a gift, so let’s enjoy it.” As the community continues to heal from the emotional and property scars of the 49 Fire, the Journal will remain focused on providing information you need to weather what comes next. Stay tuned.