The recently raging wildfire in Colorado should serve as a reminder to all residents that they too should always be vigilant about wildfire.
For days last week, firefighters battled the Black Forest blaze near Colorado Springs that has destroyed 473 homes and damaged 17, earning it the title of the most destructive fire in Colorado’s history.
Some long-time Pocono residents are familiar with such a fast-moving, fearsome fire. Devastating flames swept through the Sierra View development near Effort in 1992, burning 150 acres. It took 200 firefighters from three counties to put it out. Four years later, a brush fire scorched 200 acres near Long Pond just north of Sierra View.
Like the dry ponderosa pine area near Colorado Springs, Sierra View in the western part of Monroe County is prone to fires. Its unique plant ecosystem, which includes pitch pine trees and other resin-filled plants, depends on periodic brush fires to reproduce — and is especially susceptible to wildfires. After the two serious fires in the 1990s the Pennsylvania Department of Natural Resources developed a “Pennsylvania Firewise Community Program,” a two-pronged effort that focused on both preventing and fighting fires.
Experts believe the massive Colorado fire, which killed two people, was human-caused. Everyone should remember Smokey bear’s message, “Only you can prevent forest fires.” A carelessly tossed match, the embers from a cigarette butt or a neglected backyard burn barrel, even sparks from a barbecue grill can ignite a dangerous fire that can quickly burn out of control. Add accident to a highly flammable terrain, and catastrophe can result. Anyone who’s ever witnessed a pitch pine virtually explode like a giant terrestrial Roman candle knows full well the fearsome potential of fire in the Poconos.
Nature’s inferno has left thousands of people homeless in Colorado. Local residents in fire-prone areas too must remain alert to the possibilities and do their best to prevent wildfires in residential areas.