18 Sep 2008, 10:44pm
Latest Fire News
by admin

Our Fire, Our Fight

A brutal burn season in Klamath country leaves locals grumbling at federal firefighting tactics

By Malcolm Terence, Northcoast Journal, Sept. 18, 2008

I don’t think I’d ever seen Jim Bennett mad before this year’s fires came through his place. And Bennett is no stranger to fire. Before he retired in 1996, he’d worked 32 years as a fireman for the U.S. Forest Service on Salmon River. Fire had burned near his place in 1977. The canyon filled with brush and post-fire logging slash, then burned again in 1987. All this and Jim Bennett, the calmest man on the river, finally got angry after the out-of-town firefighters brought the latest fire down to his backyard this summer.

“The fire team isn’t here to put it out. They want to steer it around,” he grumbled. “They started the burnout at my place at the wrong time. Three o’clock on a hot afternoon is not a safe time in this drainage. They were in a hurry. They had a goal to get the line burned out up to Forks of Salmon by 1800.” (That’s 6 p.m. to ordinary clock-watchers.)

He said the bad timing made the burnout ignition so hot that the fires breached a fireline at a water-filled ditch above his place and the crews backed down to save the structures in his small neighborhood. “They tell me, ‘You still have your house,’” he said contemptuously. It is not his usual style of speech.

Bennett is chief of the Salmon River Fire and Rescue and no stranger, he explains, to the use of fire to prevent a worse fire. His Karuk father and grandfather told him about how the Indians used to burn late in the fall until the US Forest Service banned the practice. He, himself, remembers how the cowboys used to light fires in the high country meadows when they brought down their herds of cattle in the late fall. “They all knew when to burn. When they stopped that burning, the high meadows became brushfields.” … [more]

22 Sep 2008, 6:47pm
by YPmule

Reading the linked story brought back a lot of emotions from last summer. We watched helplessly as back fires were lit on red flag days adding hundreds of acres to the mega fires bearing down upon our village. We were “the community irregulars in the bright yellow Nomex shirts” too.

YPFD spotter meeting 090408



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