Sunday, December 28, 2008

Wildfire news, December 28

Three days after Christmas, there are two stories in the news about families and wildfires. One is about a woman who was marking trees in New Mexico for a timber sale in an area that had recently burned. She describes how animals come into burns to curiously look around at the changed landscape. Her 7-year old twins were with her but out of sight--they communicated with whistles. When she heard a three-whistle emergency call from them she ran to where they were, and found the twins between a bear and a bear cub.

The other story is about the Rainbow inmate camp north of San Diego. There are many inmate camps in California that have prisoners trained as wildland firefighters, but the Rainbow camp is different--all of the inmates are female. I remember when they converted this camp from male to female in the early 1980's. Legendary CalFire Chief Bill Clayton was chosen to run the camp.

People scoffed and said that all-women hand crews would never work out; they would never be effective at fighting fires; they will be too concerned about their hair and makeup. It is now about 25 years later and the Rainbow inmates have been and still are a well-respected firefighting organization.

Part of the story about the Rainbow camp tells how some of the women recorded DVD's of them sitting in their orange jump suits in front of a Christmas tree reading to their children. The DVD's are then mailed to the kids. There is a video on the site that shows several of them making the recordings for their children.

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