Thursday, August 11, 2022
During our first week of our assignment of on the McKinney Fire in Siskiyou County, California, we have been digging containment trenches, putting out spot fires and conducting “mop up” in what is referred to as the “black” zone. This is the area where fire has already ripped through. Mop up is scouring the black zones for remaining pocket fires and hot spots that could spread into the “green” zone: the areas not burned. There is wet and dry mopping, the later being done by digging with hand tools such as shovels, grubbers, and Pulaskis (kind of like a pickaxe). The fire line is dug as a trench between the green and black zones to act as a barrier to prevent further spread, and a combination of wet mopping (with a fire hose) and dry mopping was utilized. Sometimes there are no hoses available. Wildland firefighting makes me feel like I’m back in the Marines, but we have traded in our weapons for tools. Few people can truly understand solidarity until their lives are in the hands of the comrades next to them. RANK AND FILE!
I’ve unfortunately been criticized for working on wildfires in California while my own state of Kentucky has been stricken with catastrophic floods. While I’m devastated to see disaster befall the Commonwealth, I’m doing my duty, and doing my job. I’ve also heard people say “let the west coast burn.” Inversely, there are some out here who might not care what happens in Kentucky. I care what happens everywhere. Micro-nationalist regionalism is divisive and destructive to our country, just as individualist nationalism is to our planet. We are all in this together, united we stand.