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Coulee Medical Center ER and Walk-In Care

By Jesse Utz 

Fire affects us all

Jess Shut Up


As I write this, and probably as you read it, there are firefighters on the front line of a fire, battling the smoke, heat and flames. There is also a homeowner deciding if they should evacuate or stay and defend his or her home. There are also loved ones worrying about their better halves, praying that they will be safe. There is someone with asthma who can’t wait until they can go outside again. There is a citizen wondering what they can do to help?

I have a past in firefighting. In the early 1990s, I found myself in the Navarre Coulee near Chelan. (The same place where the fire burned again this year). I was with Deano and Flintstone, and we found ourselves in a scary situation. Without giving too much of the details, we saved a home that had been tagged unsaveable, and we pretty much did it by ourselves. As we left the valley that day we were pleased with ourselves, but when we looked out the window and scanned the countryside, we saw the devastation. Not all the homes were saved. Some people lost everything.

Being a firefighter is easy most of the time. You simply put the wet stuff on the hot stuff and you keep doing that till the fire is out. During wildland season, things can become different in a hurry. Our area knows the painful truth of that all too well. We have seen homes lost, belonging to people we know and love. We even had to go to a funeral once after one of our friends/coworker/family lost her life on a fire. In the fire service, we see ourselves as a family, and when we fail to protect and serve everyone at a 100-percent success rate it, can be like getting punched in the gut by a professional boxer.

What we sometimes don’t think about is the family at home. The wives and husbands, moms and dads, grandmas, uncles and kids, all at home, worrying about the wind, smoke columns and heat, knowing that their heart is quite possibly in the thick of the fight. Not being able to sleep and watching the news sometimes for the only information they get on how things are going for their love.

I never really thought that much about those I left at home when the truck pulled out of the station. I had a job to do and would try and focus on that, but these days as my brothers and sisters are putting in 48 hours straight on the front lines with wicked wind blowing them in the face, choking smoke surrounding them and no relief in sight, I think back to the days I was there and my wife was at home, wondering.

Many people have asked how they can help the efforts. Well, the American Legion Post in Electric City is taking donations for those who lost their homes and everything in them. The Red Cross can take monetary donations. Glo Carroll and her crew of bakers have been making treats and delivering them to the fire fighters. Contact any of them for more information on their efforts.

There is something a little more personal we can do, too. When you see the wife/husband of a firefighter, give him or her a hug. When you see those tired firefighters return to town, thank them. Shake their hand. If you know of a person that is suffering because of the smoke, check in on them; see if they need anything. Write letters of support in the paper or on Facebook to your local hero.

You see, if, while the firefighters are away helping our neighbors, we look out for the people left at home and we all support each other, then our bond as neighbors and citizens strengthens and the world becomes a better place.

Yes, homes will be lost and, painfully, some lives;but if we come together in the darkest times, our lives in the easier times will be much better. The fire might not be knocking on my back door, but it is at my friend’s home. The smoke is here reminding us of what is happening all around us. Even if we can do nothing else, the one thing we all can do is pray. Pray for safety, more help and rain.

Stay safe out there, brothers and sisters; we are proud of you.

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