July 30, 2004

Waterfall Fire

Update about the fire. It was named the Waterfall Fire after a tiny little creek that runs through the hills where it started. A total of 18 homes were burned, mostly ones nestled in the dry forest at the fringe of town. The firefighters were able to hold it at bay along the edge of town, but it ran wild up in the mountains. Over 8,000 acres were burned before it was finally extinguished and the hills, all the way from the north end of town to the south, are now charred black. This fire is going to leave its scar for a long time to come.

But there was a town to come back to. So that’s something. That’s thanks to the firefighters that were out there for days on end, over a thousand of them, more concerned with keeping the flames away from town than with completely surrounding them. Save the houses first, and then when it scurries up into the mountains you can work on stomping it out. And that’s what they did. The efforts of their work are visible now that the smoke has cleared.

Parts of the Lakeview neighborhood are literally in the forest. The houses are surrounded by trees. You can see the black scar where the fire came down the hill, and there’s a distinct line where it stops. Not a single house was lost in Lakeview.

The Timberline neighborhood wasn’t so fortunate; several houses were lost there. But dozens of others were saved. Timberline is also in the forest, up the hill a ways. It used to be well camoflauged against the mountain backdrop, but now it stands out; an island of green perched in the center of a sea of black. That image, more than any other, is a testament to the skill of the firefighters.

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