I thought you might like to hear from a fire fighter and her mom's perspective. Kerry, my daughter, was a part of the fire fighting crews from EBMUD (every EBMUD ranger is trained in fighting urban interface fires.) They were at the scene in Strawberry Canyon a very few minutes after it started.
Kerry said that it was windy in the canyon and that initially the crews were trying to stay on top of spot fires that were popping out all over. And, that, while they were all aware of the danger caused by eucalyptus trees and dead grasses, the other real and present danger were the dead or diseased Monterey Pines. The fire moved fast and she said that the degree of cooperation between different fire crews, from different companies, was extraordinary.
When Kerry got home yesterday she had been fighting that fire from about 1:30 p.m.until 7:30 p.m. Watching her walk to her apartment on what she called "jelly legs" and hearing her cough from all the smoke and ash in her lungs brought home the dangers all of the fire fighters face. As they were running up and down steep canyon slopes these men and women were dressed in fire gear while carrying heavy packs, in 90 plus degree heat...not including the heat generated by the fire. Have I said a prayer of thanks, that except for a nasty fall taken by a fire fighter, there were no external injuries...you bet.
We lost our home in the '91 fire, and as a mom I can't express how extraordinarily proud I am of my daughter....but, also of all the other men and women who put their lives at risk for those of us who live in the hills. So, I ask of you...if you have explosive eucalyptus or dead or diseased Monterey pine...please, please remove them from your property. Your action could save someone's life. Thank you, Gerry