My husband and I own horses so that we can trail ride and enjoy our equine company. Our summers are spent in one of the most beautiful areas of the country. We have done our best to schedule two days a week to hit the trails, working around a myriad of other things on our “to-do” lists.
When we land in our lounge chairs at night, we’ve usually had a very full day. Most of the time, we eat dinner in our chairs with the national news on if the timing is right. Sometimes, I’ll start working on a blog post after we eat.
That was the scenario a couple of nights ago… and the national news was emanating from the TV. Here is the segment that really gave me pause…
Our “beautiful area of the country” happens to be the Rocky Mountains in Colorado. Our winter location is Arizona. I wrote several blogs last fall about the Cameron Peak Fire, and how close it came to our home. (Blogs linked at the end of this post.) Just for grins recently, I researched property and homes on “our” mountain, just to see what was for sale. I found this listing:
Were these folks planning to sell all along… and the fire altered their property value? Or was the fire the catalyst for the sale? I don’t know… but I do know that for me and my husband, wildfires have become a very real threat.
I’m not a “tree-hugger”… but I am certainly worried about our planet. I’m worried about our homes. And I worry about our pets and livestock. I strongly encourage you to watch the less-than-3-minutes video clip. But if you’d rather not, here are some take-away points:
Fire Chief Brian Fennessy is quoted in the video.
“We are seeing hot days and heat waves like we have never seen before, and then the wind is just a formula for disaster. These fires are moving with such speed that it is exceeding all of the models that we’ve used for decades when trying to gauge fire spread. We hear it all the time from citizens… “I didn’t think the fire was gonna get here that quickly!”
Other notable points made in the video include:
- While extreme conditions aren’t new, the intensity and duration is.
- Tropical storms and hurricanes are forming earlier in the season.
- Catastrophic floods are becoming routine.
- Scientists say greenhouse gases must be reduced as a start to the solution.
Nearly every ride that Alan and I have enjoyed this summer has been through areas affected by wildfire. When the Cameron Peak Fire was threatening our home last year, I became a reluctant “expert” on wildfire terminology. I repeatedly heard terms such as boots on the ground, slopover, sublimation, and values at risk. The percent containment was a frequent and critical buzzword. I learned that firefighters actually put hands on the ground to assess the amount of heat present. The RH or relative humidity was frequently discussed, and of course, the wind speed and direction were carefully monitored.
Have you heard of a UAS? Probably not, unless your home was threatened by a wildfire… That is an Unmanned Aircraft System, or simply put, a drone. Did you know that firefighting teams rotate in and out of a particular fire every 2-3 weeks? Trust me, I learned way more about wildfires and fighting fires than I ever expected to know.
Flooding After the Fires
And then there is flooding. Because of the burn scars left behind, our area is now experiencing catastrophic flooding. In fact, a few days ago, an entire family was presumably killed when their home suddenly washed away in a flash flood. This happened just north of our home. Residents reported noticing the “smell” of water only moments before the flooding hit them. Massive tree trunks and other large, dangerous debris were contained in the muddy, rushing water.
While that was occurring north of us, we received this warning. My neighbor was visiting her kids and grandkids, and she worriedly texted me when she received this alert. She and her husband have cats in their cabin, but they were not going to be home for a couple of days.
Fortunately, the evacuation area was about a half mile from our home… but only a half mile!
Most folks who have read my blogs before know that I am the creator of a safety product for horses and riders. Our horses wear identification tags, so if some horrible catastrophe occurs in a matter of seconds, Alan and I are not scrambling to make sure our livestock is identified. Yes, I have a vested interest in spreading the word about the existence of this new product. But folks, I am not making up the need for it. Just like you, I was minding my own business, watching the news, when I heard the NBC segment. I was going about my daily life when I got the voluntary evacuation text because of flooding occurring after the wildfire. We have homes in two states, and both of them have been threatened by wildfires and/or flooding.
Sandra Sullivan of Horse Habit TV asked me to co-host a podcast with her. It will launch in September, and we have had some amazing interviews as we prepare these podcasts. More about that later… but one of our interviewees was Carole Mercer. Carole shared with me that she had personally been faced with a wildfire threat. Carole is one of the most organized, most prepared individuals I have ever met. She told me she thought she was pretty clever and really prepared when she wrote her phone number on her horses’ hooves with Magic Marker. She also painted her phone number on their bodies. However, she was stunned to discover that neither approach lasted for even 24 hours!
Climate change is real. Wildfires are real. Hurricanes and floods are real. Don’t think they only happen to other people. Make sure your livestock is identified if and when they happen to you.
Our new tags will be in stock by the end of July. They are lightweight, contain lots of information, and feature reflective strips to aid firefighters in finding livestock at night and in smoky conditions. Don’t wait until your local sheriff’s department pings your phone…