Happy third day of Hanukkah to my Jewish friends and readers. Those who have followed this column will remember my mention of having friends from Israel who are very closely connected there. I wrote about my friend who was a veteran of two of Israel’s wars and who had the dubious honor of having two different tanks shot out from under him and living to talk about it.
We were talking about the fires in Israel. Two things came out of the brief discussion. One, we both feel certain that the fires are due to arson. But further than that, look at it from the terrorists’ point of view if in fact arson it is. It’s a really low budget, zero technology, low risk hit for the terrorists. It killed over forty Israelis. They may not find it quite as easy to do next time. Israel is wasting no time bulking up on fire fighting equipment and wild lands fire fighting technology.
It’s something we have an awful lot of experience with here in America. I have another friend who is a crew leader on a federal hot-shot fire crew. He was on the same fire in northern California that took the lives of a fire crew… he was one ridge over. He told me that if the wind had shifted the other way it could have been his crew. The Israelis will learn from the best.
Here’s where it gets ugly… and it’s not the first time it’s occurred to me. Low budget (no funds to solicit), no technology required (even the shoe bomber could have done it… well, maybe the panty bomber), low risk. Any idea how many unpopulated wildland / forested square miles in the US? I don’t know either, but it’s a lot.
It’s something we need to consider. There were some fires that got started last year that I was really dubious about. The potential is there, and and it is indeed an area where we are even more vulnerable than Israel because of our extensive forests and wild lands. I can’t speak for all forests but I can speak for the area up in the sierras where I and a friend hold some mining claims. It’s remote, it’s heavily forested with steep slopes to the watercourses. We have to be extraordinarily careful with fire and equipment operation down there. That’s what it’s like in much of our forests, remote… and vulnerable.
I’m not in any way suggesting keeping good people out of our forests. In fact, I’d invite as many good woodsmen as we could find to spend as much time as they could doing what they love. Up in the mountains it’s amazing how much a trained set of eyeballs can see.
Semper Vigilans, Semper Fidelis
© Skip MacLure 2010
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