Sunday, January 06, 2008

They gotta let it burn. Or do they?

Thursday as I was driving down the Steese through Fox, on my way to the White Mountains up the Elliot Highway, I saw a fire. Plumes of smoke, both gray and black, rising from a cabin engulfed in flames. I thought it was a prescribed burn. You know, set on fire on purpose for some reason or another. I thought that only because there were people standing around watching it and no fire trucks in sight. I kept going and when I came out of the bush the next day I found out it was not a controlled fire, it was someone's home burning to the ground. The volunteer fire department, just two miles away, responded when the call came in and the blaze was just a small, smoldering spark in the garage. But they turned around and thus the fire grew quickly out of control and destroyed the dwelling. The fire department turned around because the cabin was on the wrong side of the highway. The cabin was 180 feet outside the fire district. The cabin owners don't pay taxes because they live outside the district and therefore don't qualify for fire service. I understand that the fire fighters' hands were tied. But seriously, they were there and they could have saved the home. They had the equipment, they had the water, but they turned around and went back to the station and the home is gone as a result. I know there has to be a line, a boundary. But how can the firemen and women sleep knowing what happened. I think about it at night and I have nothing to do with it. Apparently, for those outside the fire district, they can request the fire department put out the fire and be billed for it later. But, according to this home owner, the fire department never offered this option, one that he would have gladly taken to save his home. How horrible.
Of course, I'm assuming that the fire and the owners were all on the up-and-up. That is, that it wasn't some sort of fraud.
I know the fire department were just doing what they were told, but at some point, being a human being has to trump the bureaucracy. Doesn't it?


Marty b said...

Wow! What a fantastic window dressing. And then the first message under the new format is a profile on the idiocy of bureaucracy! What irony.

Do enjoy your blog on your life and your dogs. I don't know why that one writer yipped unless they thought they were being humorous.

Anyway, I enjoy following your experiences, both of living in Alaska and preparing for the races. I enjoy animals, particularly dogs, but I don't think I would opt for your life style, even years ago when I was more venturesome and spent most of my free time camping and in the local woods. Now, a good book, a warm nook (corner that is) and cold brew is more to my taste.

Thanks for blogging.

Marty b

Coldfoot said...

Dang. I got the post about Tang and Trucks on my rss feed, but I note you deleted it.

That was classic.

And you can't request fire service and pay for it later. The scene you describe happens several times each year in this area.

As a counter point to your observation, I would add that putting out the fire requires the firefighters to put their life at risk. By not paying for the fire service you are not paying for their training, upkeep, etc. etc. It is fairly brazen to expect them to respond to your emergency (and by "you" I don't mean "you personally").

Service districts are easy to form in Alaska. Look into it before the fire starts. Yes, it is a little cold-hearted, but the old adage "Failure to plan on your part, does not constitute an emergency on my part" comes to mind.

AKbushbaby said...

Thanks Marty!
Coldfoot: I took it off because I felt like I was being too defensive and just letting that jerk get to me. I misunderstood Sam. He told me that a guy's house burned, the FD put it out and then realized he was outside the district so they billed him. I thought that was regular practice. I understand why they didn't put it out, but it seems so sad that they showed up and turned around. That's all.