I’ve been thinking about the wildfires in California today. My heart goes out to the people whose lives have been altered, whether they lost property or not. Thinking about the devastation made me consider our own dry state. I know what you’re thinking, “Not with the monsoon of June,” but prior to last summer, our drought lasted years.
Seven years ago, in Oklahoma’s back country, two young men were seen with fireworks. They set off a wildfire that burned so hot, it annihilated both the buried telephone cables and all microorganisms twelve inches deep in the soil. I took this picture today showing the fire’s continuing impact on one tree.
I remember because our home was within three miles of that fire. Fortunately for us, the winds blew the flames the other direction, but we went without land line telephones for a month. I live in a log house, so I keep my eye on the burn ban information at the Oklahoma Department of Agriculture anytime our climate is dry. Another fire that same season came within a quarter mile of my house. We were preparing to pump water out of our pond and wet down the roof when it changed course. So, all of this got me wondering, what can we do to help ourselves before another fire.
We need to do the following:
- Mow around our homes
- Chop down all cedar trees anywhere nearby. Filled with cedar oil, they go up like roman candles during a fire sending sparks thousands of feet away. I’ve seen it. Also, cedar trees are now invasive in our state. You’ll be doing all of us a favor.
- Get rid of any fuel around the house like dead tree limbs, firewood, etc.
- During a red flag alert, don’t shoot off fireworks. If you decide to shoot fireworks during non-drought conditions, fine, have a garden hose nearby.
- Follow the directions from the Oklahoma Agriculture Department regarding burn bans.
- Watch the Firewise landscape DVDs and plant some the shrubs and trees around your home that the forestry department recommends.
I know this year was a record one for rainfall, but with our wacky weather, drought will be back and sooner than you think, fire danger will be too.