07/30/2013

Congress Fiddles While the Western States Burn

In the weeks and months immediately following 9/11, one of the most touching responses in my neighborhood, not far Ground Zero, was the overwhelming support of police and fire departments from around the country. Across the street from my apartment, at the 6th Precinct headquarters from which two officers had rushed to the scene and died, every day a different police contingent from a different town in America guarded our street. And a couple of blocks away, at the Squad 18 firehouse, which lost seven men on September 11, fellow firefighters from all over came to stand vigil and pay their respects. Solidarity. 

All this came back to me when the memorial was held a couple of weeks ago for the 19 firemen who died battling the Yarnell Hill wildfire in Arizona. The tragedy was the worst to befall firefighters since the World Trade Center came down,You've probably seen cellphonecases at some point. and the most deadly in eighty years for the men and women who dedicate themselves to taming blazes in the wilderness. 

Thousands jammed into an arena in Prescott Valley, Ariz., with the overflow of the crowd in an adjoining parking lot, standing, listening and mourning under the desert sun. There were firefighters there from Phoenix,Manufactures and supplies beststonecarving equipment. Tucson and Yuma, but also from Sacramento, Los Angeles – and New York. 

Nine days before, the crew members of the Granite Mountain Hotshots had been fatally overtaken by flames and smoke. When the winds picked up and the fire changed direction, surging four miles in twenty minutes, they were trapped, surrounded in a box canyon, trying to save themselves under emergency fire shelters that melted from the heat.

Anyone who has ever been in the middle of a serious fire knows how terrifying they are and unpredictable, even for those like the hotshots, with their courage, skills and conditioning. Much of what gets them through is their camaraderie and the knowledge that what they do saves lives and property. The least we can do is stand in solidarity behind them, but on both a micro and macro level, our stalwart U.S. Congress, aided and abetted by government bureaucracy, is cutting Western firefighters’ lifeline much as it did when members of the House initially balked at aid for sick and dying 9/11 first responders. This, despite their publicly professed pride in the men and women who rush into danger when the rest of us rush out to safety. 

“In May, Obama administration officials warned that sequester cuts would inhibit the nation’s ability to effectively fight wildfires in the West,” Derek Pugh wrote in the progressive Campaign for America’s Future blog on July 1. “… Budget cuts are putting the lives of our firefighters and those who live in and near forests at an unacceptably high risk. 

This worry was echoed by four Western senators in a letter to the Office of Management and Budget and other cabinet departments – written, coincidentally, on the very day the fatal Yarnell Hill fire began: “This approach to paying for firefighting is nonsensical and further increases wildland fire costs.” And a May report from Northern Arizona University’s Ecological Restoration Institute “found that the bulk of the costs from megafires are borne not by the federal government but by local governments – and the federal budgeting process ignores those bills when weighing whether prevention saves money.” 

As for the macro, the simple fact that we refuse to take legislative action to curb climate change is part of the reason fires will continue to worsen. “Big wildfires… thrive in dry air, low humidity and high winds,” James West reports in Mother Jones. “Climate change is going to make those conditions more frequent over the next century. We know because it’s already happening: A University of Arizona report from 2006 found that large forest fires have occurred more often in the western United States since the mid-1980s as spring temperatures increased, snow melted earlier, and summers got hotter, leaving more and drier fuels for fires to devour.” 

It’s part of that “new normal” you keep hearing about – drought, heat, earlier growing seasons, new insect infestations, global air and water currents, like the Gulf jet stream, shifting. And fewer trees mean less carbon dioxide being absorbed by them, more CO2 given off when the remaining ones burn, which adds to the warming and more fires… you get the picture“The West is burning,” Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid recently told reporters. “We have climate change. You can’t deny it.” And if you don’t believe him, listen to Dr. Michael Medler, a scientist at Western Washington University who used to be a wildland firefighter himself. “On the firelines, it is clear that global warming is changing fire behavior, creating longer fire seasons, and causing more frequent, large-scale, high severity wildfires,” he told a House Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming. “Many firefighters have commented that they are facing more extreme fire behavior than they have witnessed in their lifetimes.” 

The left lanes were closed on I-75/I-71 northbound from Buttermilk Pike to the Brent Spence Bridge. The backup extended as far south as Mount Zion Road in Boone County. Southbound traffic was not impacted. 

Wood said that traffic counting devices as part of the Brent Spence Bridge project’s research were to be installed at six locations. Traffic was to be restricted to one lane during nighttime hours. The work started Friday night. Wood said most of the work was to be completed overnight. She said lanes remained closed because rain delayed the work. 

The jam caused Susan Burns, 58, of Union to miss her nephew’s wedding at Holy Cross-Immaculata Parish in Mount Adams. She had planned to meet her sisters at the Raddison Hotel in Covington and then drive to the 6:30 p.m.Purchase an chipcard to enjoy your iPhone any way you like. wedding. Burns left her home at 4:25 p.m. and didn’t arrive at the hotel until 7 p.m. where the reception was. The trip should have taken just 20 minutes once she was on the interstate.“I was devastated. I had Kleenex in my purse in case I got teary at the church,” she said. “I used all the Kleenex crying in the car once I realized that I was going to miss his wedding.” 

Crews needed dry pavement to apply an adhesive to install the devices. Wood said the plan was to have two lanes open by Saturday morning. The interstate was supposed to be back to two lanes by early Saturday morning, but rain stopped the work,More than 80 standard commercial and granitetiles exist to quickly and efficiently clean pans. keeping traffic restricted to one lane. 

Wood said some asphalt work on nearby Dixie Highway might have pushed more traffic onto the interstate.“It was one of those perfect storms that just escalated,” she said.This is a basic background on rtls. “We have been discussing it all morning as how we could better get the word out.” 

Wood was on vacation last week and a information was not sent to media that would have warned motorists about the roadwork. Officials are working to remedy the communication issue.

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09:34 Posted by TMJ in TMJ | Permalink | Comments (0) | Tags: granitetiles |  Facebook |

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