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Fires and Prepping

Many of us have been captivated by the wildfires racing through Australia. The death, destruction, and the toll taken on the environment are all too familiar to those of us living in The Golden State.

In the 2008 fire season we, in California alone, saw 32 major fires. There was an untold number of smaller brush fires. Those small brush fires still cost people, in some cases, their homes, businesses, and livestock.

The 2008 season taxed state resources to the breaking point. If not for stubborn property owners refusing to abandon their homes, mutual aid from neighboring states, and the military things could have been potentially even worse.

The continued drought, and lack of financial resources due to the failing economy points to another potentially disastrous fire season for 2009.

An unfortunate fact of living in areas prone to fires is the existence of the "fire bug" Firebug is a loosely applied term given to pyromaniacs and arsonists.

In 2007, Fox News was roundly criticized for publicizing the possibility that the terrorist group Al-Qaeda was responsible for a rash of California wildfires. Al-Qaeda operatives interviewed in 2003 had stated that starting wildfires was one of the plans the group had been considering. During the 2008 fireseason here in California, people were seen intentionally starting several of the major blazes. Some of them were aprehended.

Again the possibility of Al-Qaeda's involvement in wildland fires has been raised. Read about Austrailia's recent events in this article from the Daily Mail. Read the take the Times Of India had on the subject here.

We are facing an incredibly stressful time for many people. People who are angry have often resorted to starting fires as a means of expression. As our economy continues to slide, and more people find themselves isolated and disenfranchised from The American Dream, I fully expect people to lash out as we have seen recently in Greece.

I live in a semi-rural area, and I have noticed a number of ranchettes sitting empty and the native grasses already thigh high from the rains we have had. Some of these properties front state highways and rural roads heavily traveled by tourists and vacationers heading to and from Yosemite. I cannot tell you how often I see people tossing lit cigarettes from vehicles . There is also the issue of people towing trailers with chains dragging sending up showers of sparks.

Some of you may live in more urban or suburban settings, but you are also faced with vacant properties with neglected vegetation. While it is winter, it scarcely presents a problem as everything is green, but once it starts to dry out it becomes kindling.

Vacant properties have frequently been targeted by vandals who often engage in arson. How many of you remember Devil's Night? I fully expect this phenomena to make a resurgence in these times and to potentially spread beyond its cradle, Detroit.

It is becoming clear that this situation we are facing is growing rapidly beyond what we can handle as individuals or even as families. It is critical that you begin to network with your neighbors and talk about the potential for a disaster.

The potential for a serious fire is an opening for you to begin speaking with your neighbors about prepping. You don't need to go full bore and deluge them with everything we do. Start with just the possibility of a fire.

Work out some kind of a plan for all of you to work cooperatively together to address the issue of untended houses. A neighborhood work party to deal with overgrown yards and creating a defensible space when your properties back up to an undeveloped track will build cooperation and trust. Follow up with a neighborhood BBQ. Use that time to discuss issues such as watching out for strangers to the neighborhhod or unusual vehicles. Broach the subject of other possible disasters such as earthquakes.

I've found that people are more responsive if you ask what they've planned for and what they think about a subject over being lectured. If they admit that they haven't given much thought to the subject, just point them to the preppers network and have them read on their own.

Before your party breaks up, make plans to work on a regular basis maintaining the defensible space and untended yards. This will give you a perfect opportunity to follow up with those whom you have directed to the prepper sites. Ask for their thoughts and opinions if they have visited. If not, again encourage them to do so.

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