About a month ago, I read a letter about how our mountain fire departments were not doing their job as far as fire abatement here, and I have to disagree.

My Station 23 [Pine Cove] sends me a love letter every year squawking about something and I don’t need anymore.

We need to get rid of the fiction between us and reality if we want to perpetuate the forest we came here for. The real fire danger here is the home each of us lives in.

Some are worse than others, like the one’s with cedar siding — they are the worst of all. If we are really serious about mitigating fire danger, we would all have noncombustible siding, decks, roofs, windows and doors on our homes instead of blaming our firefighters.

In the forest, we don’t see pine needles being raked and removed, now do we? Only when it involves the combustible boxes we live in, called houses, with the usual steel oval shaped fossil-fuel depository in the yard and the gasoline tanks on the vehicles we need to reach these homes.

In fact, on the east coast, pine needles are sold in bales at any home and garden center and used as ground cover around trees and shrubs. They call it “pine straw” — like the pine straw we see on our walks and hikes out in the undeveloped forest. How novel! Using pine straw for what it was intended!

I am told by wildfire firefighters that the flying embers of a wildfire that end up in our needle-filled rain gutters are one of the best structure fire starters up here.

And in 2007, a friend’s Arrowhead house was saved only because her composite decks melted from flying embers and didn’t flame up so well (unlike her frugal redwood decked neighbors).

If we are truly interested in fire abatement, we would either (a) remove all the homes, which is what the trees, wildlife and some firefighters would vote for, or (b) re-side, at least, or build new homes that won’t burn up the whole neighborhood so well.

But, go ahead, blame the forest. But even if it’s blaming nature or the shame of owning a fire trap, clean your raingutters either way.

Mike Reno
Pine Cove