Posted by: Viola | August 11, 2015

Sky full of fire planes

In the last week or so, the sky has been full of fire planes. Orange-bellied planes. Carrying fire-retardant. Headed in the direction of the wildfires raging across some of the forests and fields of California. Every summer, we have wildfires. Some sparked by lightening. Some sparked by people. The landscape is so dry now, so ready to go up in flames. The drought is surely not helping. But even in the years when we’ve had decent rainfall, there are always summer wildfires. This year, however, things seem to be either extreme or maybe closer to us, because this is the first time I am seeing these fire planes flying over us.

Last week, on Tuesday, there seemed to be a fire plane flying over Sacramento every few minutes. It felt positively apocalyptic. And even with all these planes (and all the firefighters-men and women) fighting the fires, the flames seemed unstoppable. The news reports talked about the difficulty of containing the fires. The goal, it seems, is not to stop the fires (they are unstoppable). The goal is to contain them. Contain them, prevent them from spreading, prevent them from damaging property. Contain them and let them burn themselves out. Let them die out on their own. Burn until they can burn no more.

Today, the air smelled of smoke. Whenever I see or hear a fire plane over us, I send the pilots and firefighters all my support and lots of courage. Theirs is not an easy job. They are battling with an element that is very difficult to control. Fire. The element of fire. They are also fighting the fires with tools that are limited, equipment that is no match for what this fiery force of nature can do. They have to witness the destruction of beautiful forests–albeit dry, nearly desiccated landscapes.

It is hard to watch the destruction unfold on TV, and I can only imagine how hard it is to watch on the ground, from the firefighters’ vantage point. These firefighters also run the risk of losing their lives. So far, I believe two firefighters have died this summer, in the course of battling these California wildfires. Their work is not easy. I wish them well. And hope and pray the fire season comes to an end soon. But I suspect this will not be the case. And so I am grateful to all these fighters who put their lives on the line to keep us safe.

To see a map of the current wildfires in California, visit this page: Cal Fire

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