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The Observer paper 12/24/14

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Home arrow Opinion arrow OUR VIEW: Heroic efforts save town

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OUR VIEW: Heroic efforts save town

One fact of modern life is we need more heroes. Not just from the military, sacrificing time from their families and risking their lives to protect our freedoms in hot spots around the world. Not just from the legions of professional athletes, who perform otherworldly feats but do not always live up to our expectations when it comes to treating partners with respect or being role models.


That’s why it’s welcome news when a ranch firefighter crew plays an integral role in saving a town. Sure, there’s not much to Imnaha. Just a store, a school and a smattering of homes. But when the Fence Creek Ranch crew, from five miles north of town, heard a wildfire was bearing down on Imnaha, they quickly jumped to the task at hand and for the first 36 hours straight, adrenaline no doubt pumping, battled the raging blaze and saved lives and property.

Of course, not all ranches have this level of firefighting capability. But as this, one of the worst wildfire seasons in recent history, flares on, it is important we remain vigilant — and honor the vast crews of firefighters dispatched throughout the West to contain the damage.

Anyone who has lived in Northeast Oregon more than a year or two knows wildfire season can continue into September and beyond. The recent cooler nights and higher humidity help. But only the fall rains, when they finally come, bring wildfire season totally to its knees.

Firefighters can help contain and, in time, stop a wildfire. But people who own property in the forest can help prevent it in the first place. They can clear out defensible space around their homes and outbuildings to make a successful fire fight more possible.

Wildfire will always be a clear and present danger in Northeast Oregon’s long, long, long summers. The timely response of crews like those of the Fence Creek Ranch and wildland firefighters on the ground and in the air, and their many hours working in dangerous conditions, can produce heroic results. We are thankful they are there to respond quickly and ably in times of crisis.

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