EDITORíS DESK: Fire: The beast in the mountains

       Soon we won't be Fire Town anymore. I feel for other parts of the country that are going through a similar experience. I know I'll never forget what it felt like at the end of June, experiencing day after day of sweltering heat and gusty winds and looking up at our once-friendly mountains and seeing them instead as smoke-shrouded enemies that could explode into our midst any day with a wall of flame.
       Even now, especially after such an explosion tragically did happen to Mountain Shadows, it's hard to see those mountains quite the same as before. Even the veteran head of the firefighting army here, Rich Harvey of the U.S. Forest Service, admitted that the fire's behavior surprised him. The day before the Mountain Shadows disaster he had told people at a community meeting that yes, it was possible for a fire to travel across two ridges and three miles of open land but it would take a day; meanwhile, he left the impression that he really did not expect it to happen at all. Well, not only did it happen, but it only took half a day. So there's a beast up in those mountains, and that's something we ought never to forget.
       One group that saw this coming - and did something about it - was the Cedar Heights neighborhood. Now that's another part of Westside life I'm seeing in a different way. Before, mention of Cedar Heights by some folks might have been accompanied by comments about it being a gated community and developers should never have slapped it onto those steep hills. But in point of fact, if Cedar Heights had not been there, and its residents not been diligently cutting away the dead vegetation that fires love, those flames could easily have swept over the Williams Canyon ridge and right down into Manitou and the Westside. So here's to Cedar Heights and to the firefighters who held that line and to us in the future, not getting fooled again.

- K.J.