Merrie VonSeggern is living in a paranoid fantasy world concocted by a convicted felon radio host.

Roger Hedgecock was the only person I know of spreading the lies and false information about the 2003 Cedar Fire spouted in Ms. VonSeggern’s Sept. 29 letter to the editor.

There is not a shred of truth in the entire letter. I have been a firefighter for 33 fire seasons. I know that to think that a single helicopter with no ground support could have suppressed a wildfire under Santa Ana wind conditions is sheer folly.

The Cedar Fire covered 19 miles in three hours that night. Do people really think that a single helicopter or, for that matter, a fleet of military helicopters with buckets could have stopped that monster?

Ask my colleagues who faced the fire that night and they will answer with a resounding “not in a million years.” Neither CAL FIRE nor any of the federal land management agencies have a “let burn policy.”

And, if she thinks that Idyllwild Fire Protection District (IFPD) with their single-engine company will save her home and the homes of her friends under similar conditions, she is only partially deluded.

IFPD can’t properly suppress a single-structure fire without the help of CAL FIRE, the U.S. Forest Service, and the Riverside County Fire Department.

And, under severe Santa Ana conditions the entire California Master Mutual Aid System will be needed.

Sometimes it is just not possible or safe to save every home, as we have all seen in recent times.

Please stop spreading these lies. It does not add anything to the debate on the survival of the IFPD.

Timothy R. Chavez


  1. First, I believe Mr. Chavez' "tone" is inappropriate as a professional firefighter of 33 fire season's.Education of the facts goes a long ways vs. making demeaning comments about someone's opinion based on her emotion and hearsay. __One must understand (and see thru it) that Ms. VonSeggern's letter is based purely on politically motivated garbage, hearsay or rumor, and emotion stemmed from the personal impacts that event in 2003 had on both herself and her family. I cannot blame Ms. VonSeggern for her OPINION based on what she "heard", however, for her to make statements purley to instill fear in our community without any FACTUAL substantiation is erroneous and purely plays into the typical drama that creates controversy in our community…I challenge Ms. VonSeggern to read the thousands of pages of investigations, formal reviews of those investigations, after action reports and recommendations based on the investigations. Don't fall into the Idyllwild "drama" and accuse individuals/agencies of causing 15 fatalities and 406 structures to be burned in order to save IFPD. Let's stick to the FACTS and not make broadscale accusations without FACTS.