[Photo: Sherri Chadd]

This isn’t a picture of a pretty sunset and puffy clouds. It is a smoke plume from a fire started by a careless person or group of people leaving an unattended fire. It was taken from my backyard. This fire started on one side of the mountain and is rapidly working its way over.

I have a home in the mountains. The possibility of having to evacuate once again due to people being careless with fire is very real right now. I want those of you responsible for these forest fires to truly understand the depth of devastation you cause. I want you to understand the deep sadness of having to pick what few items you will take from your home full of a lifetime of memories. Having to gather up your pets into one room so as to load them in a rush. Knowing that if you leave, the next time you see your home and surrounding area it may be reduced to a pile of ashes. Hoping that when the evacuation happens you make it off the mountain.

The people you have left without homes are only a small part of the destruction you created. I see the smoke plume and the red color in it and am all too aware the fire is big and it is near. I see the size of it and my heart aches for the animals that are all having their babies right now. They have to abandon their new babies and very literally flee for their lives. The odds of them outrunning a fire aren’t good. The amount of foliage destroyed will not be grown to the beauty it beheld, before your careless act destroyed it, for your generation to see again.

Do NOT dare say you have a right to enjoy and use the land if you are unwilling to care for the land and protect it. We are all stewards of the land we use and have access to. If you cannot contribute to the protection and care of it you have no right to use it. If you do not think you have a role in preserving life on the mountain, you have no right to be on it. Humans hold in our hands the ability to destroy or preserve and protect as no other living species does. Honor this land. Respect this land. Take your role as steward seriously or the land will be destroyed.

You do not want someone starting a fire in your yard the same as I do not want one in mine.

Sherri Chadd