There is something about a beautiful set of mornings after a spell of rain, the temperature was perfect upon waking for being outside. For a few days, coffee on the waterside deck was in order, the Otters, Rabbits, and Squirrels were full of energy pent up while holed up in their dens. Tonight they are back in their homes, snug for the next bout of rain.
The Island is still reeling from the fire disaster, all of our attention is focused on the victims, so many people offering help gives me faith in my fellow humans.
Over the past year, we have lost 6 homes on our 3 miles (4.82K) of dead end road, each of the residents had minutes to evacuate, enough time to alert everyone in the house and run. The cause of the blaze is yet to be determined but if it’s business, as usual, nothing will be discovered. Houses burn rapidly with no wind and when the breeze is up an infernal is the result. As can be imagined when it reaches a velocity of over 5 knots fanning the flames, the escape time greatly diminishes.
Everyone is famous in a small town and this one is no different, it is compounded when the community has a Facebook page where most of the residents are members. Rumors and assumptions run wild which stands to reason when there is no explanation available and all of us are friends. As with national emergencies, donations are sought, clothing is needed immediately. The answer is gift cards, it is terribly difficult to find items in the correct sizes so it is best for the victims to purchase their own. Housing is another matter, there is none in the San Francisco Bay area, luckily a house was found for one couple. The first house to catch fire was vacant, the fire started outside near a fence and spread quickly in every direction. The ignition point was in an odd spot, it’s hard to imagine what started it. Word circulated that one garage had 3-50 gallon drums of gasoline (189.27 liters) why that amount of fuel would be stored is left to speculation. Two reasons may have been for use with a generator that sustains life support equipment, or to supply power during an outage. There were several explosions so it is possible that there was that much being stored, but for my money, it would be safer to use a propane-fueled machine.
We don’t have much of a fire department, the response time is 20 minutes although the district claims it is 11. That’s all up for a fruitless debate that quickly degenerates into this guy said and others claiming to have timed it from the first alert to arrival on the site. By the time the first responders appear, two houses are normally completely engulfed in flames. I have no idea how long it took for the first engine to show up, I will accept the claim of a firefighter 11 minutes. Ten more minutes to set up to the first emergence of water from a hose, 21 minutes sounds about right. The closest town to us takes about 1/2 hour to reach the fire station, a speed of 60 miles per hour (96 kph) would result in a 15-minute show-up. When set-up time is added, the response is still 25 minutes, but if the fire department says 11 minutes that’s what it was.
Politics is the root of the problem, I don’t understand what all is involved but every voting year another ballot requesting a new tax is presented, we already pay more than any other City in the County. A new station has been constructed 5 miles from my house, 3 miles from the only bridge leading onto the Island. The structure is beautiful, it’s just too bad it cannot be manned due to lack of funds, really. Fifteen hundred new homes have been built during the past few years and five hundred more are scheduled for our Island, still, there is not enough money. Coming from one of the wealthiest Counties in the Bay Area it is hard to believe.
There is another factor involved and I believe is detrimental to the Fire Districts co-operation with us. Bad mouthing the Fire Department, the Fire Fighters, and the Fire Fighters Union, it’s a bad action to take. The Facebook page is a blessing and a curse, many comments declaring compassion for the victims are posted. Many posts questioning what we can do to cure this, (I contributed to this steam) with no resolution in sight. But it is self-defeating to be at odds with the responders, people cussing at them, hollering, and insults are heard on videos that were taken. Memories fade slowly pertaining to disasters, true to form most of the many houses that burned down over the past years find their way on the page. All of those hard feelings are conjured up as well, each time another fire occurs, which is too often, the memories are brought back to life. Everyone on the Island lives near a home that has been destroyed by fire, it’s not a good situation. I have another concern, one of which may become as critical as the fires.
Homeowners insurance, we are 150 miles (241.4 k) from the Campfire of last year, some insurance companies have decided to stop offering insurance to the residents. My concern is if the insurance companies were to talk to one another they would discover at least two homes and many times three burn to the ground. They did it in industry starting in the late ’70s and continues to this day, some heavy industry was shut down until their safety precautions were addressed.
The quickest solution to the problem is to vote yes on the tax increase, I know it will be a bitter pill to swallow, we are being unfairly dealt with but this world is not fair, and safety should not be sacrificed for stubborness. I for one as I assume many of you are tired of fighting this Government for everything, the politicians are out of control. The County wants our money on their terms of near non-existent service. Unfortunately the $375,000 raised by the tax, there are 1500 homes here, is enough to employ 3 qualified fire-fighters. I don’t see our service improving, nor will this be the end of the excessive taxation, at least twice the requested $250.00 yearly is more in line. That is if we get the service improvement promised, if history repeats we won’t, this is a ruse.
Thank you for reading and sharing my blog, in the highest taxed state in the union one would think Fire protection would be high on the list of priorities, unfortunately, it’s run by politicians. One way or another we will lose this battle, there are 1.14 million people in our county, 2500 of us on this remote Island, I’m voting yes on the tax the next time it rolls around.
Maybe I will go back to the North, where real people live.
Jacques Lebec Natural Self Reliance