Friday was a busy day for the area’s firefighters.
First there was the Collinsville Fire, which started Friday afternoon and destroyed more than a half-dozen homes and damaged a handful of others while burning through 25 acres of grassland. The fire displaced several families.
Then there was the Monticello Fire, which raged overnight near Lake Berryessa and had burned through 1,500 acres along the southeastern shore of the lake as of early Saturday afternoon. The fire closed down Highway 128 on Saturday in Solano County and forced evacuations in the area.
Firefighters were just beginning to check the spread of the fire.
All this happened against the backdrop of the Butts Fire in the Pope Valley area of Napa County, which started early Tuesday afternoon and ultimately spread into Lake County. That fire had charred 4,300 acres as of Saturday morning. The fire had at that point destroyed two homes and seven outbuildings and was being fought by crews from across the region, including a strike team and at least one brush unit from Solano County.
These large fires include a regional response and often a state response. That was the case June 20 when a grass fire near Interstate 680 near Fairfield raced into the developed area of rural Cordelia and scorched five acres and destroyed a house and several other structures before it was brought under control.
Gusting seasonal winds and grass and brush that’s dried out – more so than usual due to prolonged drought conditions – combine to make even small fires potentially devastating.
City fires prompt a similar joint response this time of year, such as the June 27 fire on Tulip Street that destroyed a home and seriously injured the homeowner. In that case, city crews focused on the house fire and other crews manned empty city stations – just in case.
My point? There are three.
First, we all need to be careful this time of year. Fireworks caused a seven-acre fire Monday off Interstate 80 behind Fairfield Chevrolet, in the area of the Fairfield-Suisun School District offices. The fire threatened a trailer park off Goya Drive. The Cordelia fire was likely started by someone who flung a lit cigarette out the window along I-680. At least that’s what one firefighters speculated from the scene. We don’t yet know what caused the Collinsville Fire and the Monticello Fire, but the fact that they started on July 4 gives some indication of a possible cause.
Second, while we as a community wrestle with the costs of public services, remember that most people only give serious thought to police and fire staffing levels when they need a police officer or a firefighter. Then, we want them immediately, and have little care to the public cost involved.
Finally, let’s acknowledge that police and firefighters have jobs that are dangerous at times, that they are generally paid well, and that they have generous public retirement benefits awaiting them when they retire at age 50 or 55. Let’s debate the merits of their pay and those retirement packages, but let’s not discount the work that these men and women do on our behalf.
Reach Managing Editor Glen Faison at 427-6925 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/GlenFaison.