Just as we were about to finish our dinner tonight, suddenly my daughter exclaimed, “the hill is on fire”. Her friend, whose house is at the bottom of the hill, had sent a facebook update on the fire. The hill is actually a hillock, couple of hundred feet high with a few oak trees at the top. It’s a hiking ground for the people in the neighborhood as it is surrounded by homes. we all ran out to the street. The street was full of neighbors, everybody looking at the hill and the leaping flames. Sirens blaring, fire tenders rushed from the nearby fire stations and quite promptly brought the situation under control. There was a helicopter hovering above the hill continuously, most probably a from some news agency. But for the prompt action from the firefighters, it could have been a disaster as the grass on the hill was bone dry and brown. The only green on the hill now are the oak trees. Everybody was hoping that the fire would spare the oak trees. Those trees are a sort of mascot of our neighborhood.
People were standing on the street and speculating about the source of the fire. There was a near unanimous agreement that it must have been started by someone throwing a lighted cigarette butt. Many a time, during hiking up the hill, we have seen empty bear bottles and cigarette butts on the meadows at the top of the hill. California in summer is very susceptible to wildfires. Many a times, wildfires are caused by lightning. However, there are lots of examples of fires being started due to human callousness. Lighted cigarette butts, campfires not extinguished properly, lighted matchstick thrown carelessly, people throwing out lighted cigarettes carelessly from cars to roadside etc. are some of the root causes of human caused wildfire. For a moment of indiscretion on the part of some callous person, the price paid in terms of losses to property, wildlife and human life could be very high. When will we learn to hear the warning of SMOKEY?
By now, I had completely forgotten about my fifty two weeks journey with the word “W” and Write Anything Wednesday. I have the word for my poem in front of my eyes, “Wildfire”, but not sure if I have the emotional strength to write a poem about it. By the grace of God , prompt action from the firefighters and help from nature in terms of low wind, our neighborhood was spared from being a news item.