Re: Fire on the hill, Free Lance 8/11/23

“Fire on the hill,” headlines partnered with the front page photo of a firefighter pummeling a blaze gripped my attention, as I had just watched a TV news program showing that Lahaina in Hawaii had been destroyed by fire. With difficulty, I was trying to reconcile how a port town perched on the ocean edge of an island could be so destroyed.

With a great deal of interest I read about the fire on Vista Park Hill. Having the attention of worried readers the paper quickly stated that the blaze was near a walking path and obviously it was man made. Because no discards like cigarette butts or fireworks casings were found other causes could be responsible. The fire chief, Del Campo stated, “wind gusts up to 25 mph likely contributed to ignition and spread.”

It was quickly noted that no structures were involved. Now we could breathe a sigh of relief or could we? It wouldn’t take much for our brisk afternoon winds on our very hot days to tempt hungry flames into rushing into areas of delicious homes.

Thinking back and remembering my enjoyable visit to the unique historic town of Lahaina on the island of Maui, I find it difficult to imagine but confirmed by photo evidence the awful extent of damage. Similarly we lost the city of Paradise in California.  

Explanations later offered about Lahaina were that underground water is limited and stressed with high demand from tourist hotels and restaurants. 

At our airport I see daily stress on our water supply as airplane tankers load to drop water and retardant on blazes located in the valley and high Sierra. Since sewer expansion in Hollister was OK’d by the city council majority, that majority might want to consider contracts to use treated water available for firefighting.  

With this hot dry climate upon us, we need to realize that our responsibility to each other requires a broad view of our situation. We can grow to destruction if we are careless. If we do not slow growth, fire will do it for us.

Mary Zanger


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