Zero Is a Beautiful Number

  • Above: Hotshot assigned to Post fire mop-up coming off the steep slopes above O’Neill Canyon as funnels of white smoke continued to curl through the trees. [Hedlund photo]

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    Above: Hotshot assigned to Post fire mop-up coming off the steep slopes above O’Neill Canyon as funnels of white smoke continued to curl through the trees. [Hedlund photo]

  • Sean Malis, living history curator at Fort Tejon Historical Park, took this photo Tuesday, Aug. 24 in his backyard in O’Neill Canyon. [Malis photo]

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    Sean Malis, living history curator at Fort Tejon Historical Park, took this photo Tuesday, Aug. 24 in his backyard in O’Neill Canyon. [Malis photo]

Hotshots from as far away as Alaska were still crunching through the cinders, swinging axes with sweat running down their dusty faces at the top of O’Neill Canyon Friday, Aug. 27 when a victory meeting was being held at the Lebec Community Church.

“This is the Super Bowl for us, and we lost ‘zero!’” Rocky Oplinger, Incident Commander for California’s Interagency Management Team 4 crowed to applause. No homes lost. No injuries. It was an emotional moment for commanders and the community. Two days later the Post fire was declared 100 percent contained.

—P. Hedlund


Notes From Neighbors

If there was a silver lining to be found amid the tragedy of having 1,300 acres of forest ridges burned last week, it is the unity and caring that was so prominent in the actions of neighbors toward each other. Here are some notes.

August 31, 2010
Dear Editor:

During the Post fire emergency last week it was uplifting to see the many agencies and community groups working together to meet the needs of the Mountain Communities.

Firefighters were there immediately with the resources needed. Who doesn’t feel for them, wearing all that hot gear in a heat wave to protect us and our homes in terrain only suited for billy goats?

The Red Cross, clearly experienced, was in place quickly, providing food and mental health counselors, cots for those needing to rest—whatever was needed.

Kern County Animal Control’s Guy Shaw responded to our requests, coming to Frazier Mountain High School himself with his staff, bringing crates, pet food and litter, helping us set up. As we learned in Hurricane Katrina, people need to keep their families, including their pets, with them. We appreciate Animal Control’s plan, already in place, to see that this is possible. They came ready for an array of pets (although we were not entirely prepared for the iguanas and snakes). It seems, however, Cause 4 Cats does not yet have an evacuation plan.

No one could have been more graciously helpful than High School Principal Dan Penner in turning over his facility for the evacuation center.

And then, there was The Mountain Enterprise, whose staff and website became a virtual command center, linking all of us with communication.

We must turn to each other and say ‘thank you’ as well as ‘congratulations’ for the planning and cooperation that has already taken place in preparing for emergency. There will always be kinks to work out, of course, but all in all, this truly felt like community!

Gita Nelson, President
Mountain Communities SPCA


Stupendous

August 29, 2010
Dear Editor:

My husband drove down right after the fire started and said the fire started in the “S” curve [on Lebec Road].

This is the first time we felt we had to evacuate in 22 years. Went to the Flying J, and hung out with some neighbors.

Ironically, the next day we had to move our daughter to Westmont College in Santa Barbara.

Trying week. The fire services, sheriff and CHP did a stupendous job. God Bless them.

Geraline Bahn
Lebec



Reporters

August 30, 2010
Dear Editor:

What a wonderful community resource you, your reporters and your website are. We were introduced to your website by the personnel at Pine Mountain Club during the Post fire and we’ve enjoyed your newsy newspaper for many years.

But, last week we were off the mountain during the fire and your information and timely updates were superb and much appreciated! Thanks for being there, again.

Karen and Doug Kirk
Pine Mountain


Thankful

August 28, 2010
Dear Editor:

Just a thanks for the excellent coverage of our fire over here! Now that I’m a mountain dweller/city worker, I found it very helpful throughout the last few days. This is definitely the scariest fire we’ve seen up here since 2002. I have at least three friends who had the fire come mighty close to their homes. It’s nice to see 54 degrees and blue skies over here today, plus another slew of firefighters going up the canyon. We have much to be thankful for!

Thanks to your team.

Kevin McDonnell
Lebec

This is part of the September 03, 2010 online edition of The Mountain Enterprise.

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