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Fire On The Mountain
August 10 2009

Fear gripped everyone as they woke up to the smell of smoke. All the employees of Sequoia National Park instantly knew what it meant. There had been no controlled burn warnings issued, so this had to be a forest fire, probably set by a careless camper. The crowd was growing around the deli area of Lodgepole. Campers were discussing the possibility that they may have to go ahead and cancel their trips and head back down the mountain. The concessionaire was holding an employee meeting inside as the campers watched, waiting on word from the National Park Service. The smoke in the distance was thickening, drifting closer as they watched with defeated looks. The summer of 1993 was getting hotter by the second.
Shortly after the meeting, the Park Service assured the people that immediate area was in no real danger, but that could change at any second. The fire was actually miles away however, they should be prepared to evacuate, unless of course they wanted to leave now. They were advised to do so via Kings Canyon, heading toward Fresno instead of using the Three Rivers road through Giant Forest. The fire was actually on that side of the mountain.
The employees were advised of the same thing. They could leave if they wished, or they could stay until it was necessary to leave, if it did indeed become necessary.
However, we were determined to be there, to help in any way possible. That summer I worked in Lodgepole, as one of the assistant managers. My duties included various things like deli ordering, scheduling, and dorm mom. As the fire grew, so did the intensity of the situation. We knew what we were facing. Bus loads of firefighters were being brought in and cots set up. We called them 'HOTTIES'. Not because they were cute, but because they had the hottest and worst job of all. They were brave men and women trying with all they had to save a part of a world. OUR WORLD. They deserved and got the best possible treatment possible. The campground was virtually empty by this time and every few hours a batch of hotties would come in for dinner. We pulled all of the frozen foods out of the freezers and cooked it. We knew that our power would soon be cut and our area manager saw to it that we had plenty of matches, candles, flashlights, batteries, even charcoal for the grills close to the deli. If it became necessary we could cook on them, however, the Park Service would have to give their permission to do so. Dry Ice blocks were brought up from Fresno to help keep the food and drinks cold. The order finally came that evacuation was just hours away. All we could do now was pray for rain, and leave or stay. The decision was individual. Once again, we all stayed. The Hotties had to be taken care of. WE couldn't abandon them, they were there and we would be also.
A bag of the necessities was waiting by each persons door. They would be allowed to take one bag. To some it meant clothing, to one it meant a guitar, to another a poster, to some it meant the Bible. To all it meant the memories. The memories of what was once the most beautiful place in the world. Anyone who worked and lived up in Sequoia felt that way. The memories of those brave men and women who came into the fire zone and jumped from the frying pan into the fire. And then, as quickly as it started it became contained. The Heavens opened and the rain came. Lots of rain came, and everyone danced in the rain.
After the investigation was over, it was found that the fire was actually started almost 23 miles away, by a camper who couldn't get the grill going. Acres and Acres of precious foilage, trees, and animal homes were destroyed. Healing would happen, but it would take years. Man, supposedly the most intelligent of all creatures had once again, destroyed what had been given as a gift.

WILL WE NEVER LEARN?

copywrite A.J. Angerstein , Aug. 2009
Article views: 4197


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