Letters to the Editor

Letters to the editor - July 27 edition

Overwhelming response for Mariposa

When the Eastern Madera-Mariposa Counties Volunteers (VOAD) was established two years ago, we knew something like the Detwiler Fire would happen. It was not a matter of “if,” it was a matter of “when.”

VOAD members have been meeting regularly preparing for this eventuality.

But there is nothing more heartwarming than putting out a call to action and seeing our Mountain Area respond the way they did.

Red Cross activated VOAD on July 18 (two days after the start of the fire), and by 1 p.m. that day a large booth was set-up in the parking lot of the Sierra Star to receive non-perishable food, clothing, personal hygiene items, diapers and other items for the residents of Mariposa who were evacuated at a moments notice.

Donations starting coming in my the bag full (and even car and truck loads) almost immediately once the word got out that the booth was open.

The booth was there from Tuesday through this past Sunday with VOAD volunteers and community members, through the heat, receiving the enormous amounts of items that were brought to the booth by Mountain Area residents.

It was a very endearing to work the booth and receive the donations, where many grandparents and parents arrived, having their children physically hand over the contributions.

Many people went shopping for canned goods and cloths specifically for the Mariposa evacuees.

I can’t express enough how impressed we all were from the overwhelming response by people in the Mountain Area to assist their neighbors in Mariposa.

As of Monday, all donations were being directed to New Life Christian Fellowship on Cole Road in Bootjack.

The Eastern Madera-Mariposa Counties VOAD is now shifting to the recovery phase of this disaster where we will be looking forward to helping people put their households back together.

Thank you my friends (old and new) for all you did to help.

Laura Norman, chair, Eastern Madera-Mariposa Counties VOAD

Deputy makes generous donation

I’m a Madera County Deputy Sheriff and I volunteered to to work a shift helping with security during the Detwiler Fire.

I am getting paid for my hours and I plan on donating all of my overtime pay to the victims of the fire. I figure it will be about $400 and I’m going to add $100 to make it an even $500.

I would like to challenge all the emergency personal who worked the fire on an overtime basis to do the same.

Deputy Valerie Breedlove

When the big fire hits

It is when, not if, that this is about. I spent 30 years in what is now called Cal Fire. I am retired now and have something to say to you folks living in this fantastic forested community.

Something people do not seem to understand is that in the early stages of a large fire, homes to be protected can outnumber fire engines and crews. When two five-engine strike teams are assigned to protect an area, they may have 25 or 30 homes to protect. The strike team leader (responsible for the lives and safety of his crews) must choose where to place them.

The leader drives his pickup from house to house. If the house has very little or no clearance, he checks for occupants and moves on. When he finds a home with good clearance, he thinks an engine crew can safely defend with a reasonable chance of saving it, he calls one of the engines and assigns it to the property.

This process continues until they have all available engines assigned. The leader will have certainly called for more engines and been told no more were available.

Here’s a short war story. I was given a street with five million dollar homes on it, and I made my decision. A homeowner with flammable vegetation all the way to his disagreed and began pulling hoses off my engine. The poor guy had to watch his home burn while he was in handcuffs in the back seat of a sheriff’s vehicle.

As a last note, for when you see a news broadcast of a major fire and they tell you how it was a miracle how the fire took some houses and spared others for no reason. In my experience, the house miraculously saved had clearances around it, non or very low flammability plantings, fire resistant construction material, and likely some firefighters who had taken a lot of heat to make a stand.

If a big fire comes through, no matter what you do, nobody can promise it will be saved. But if you don’t do everything now to give it the best chance, it will probably burn.

Dale Drozen, Rolling Hills