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Camp Meeker Beat - February 2013


Camp Meeker Beat
February 2013

by Tom Austin

Living in a forest can be a magical experience. It can also be terrifying. The two things we all try not to think too hard about: falling trees and fire. We’ve been lucky (unlike last year) on trees falling so far this rainy season, knock on wood. However, we haven’t been as lucky on the other thing. A few weeks ago, a house on Montgomery St. that was more than 100 years old caught fire. Today, there is nothing there but a pile of charred wood.

First, the good news: nobody was hurt. Resident Michelle Fico had gone to work, and brought her son with her. Nobody was in the house when the fire started, possibly in the kitchen. At 8:17 pm on January 8, a neighbor saw flames coming through the roof and called it in. By the time the VFD trucks arrived eight minutes later, the house was engulfed in flames. The firefighters quickly decided on a “surround and drown” strategy to keep the fire from spreading to any of the nearby houses or trees. This strategy was successful, although the house itself was a total loss. 

Again, let’s focus on the positives here: nobody was hurt, and the combined work of the Camp Meeker, Occidental, and Monte Rio fire departments prevented the fire from spreading.  Our wonderful friends and neighbors established a fund to help Michelle get back on her feet, and met their fundraising goal in a matter of weeks! Pretty incredible.

Okay, let’s look forward. I’m sure you are asking, as I am, “what can I do to keep my house safe?” I won’t go into the “inside the house” part of fire safety; that’s a hefty subject, and there are many who could address it better than I. I did talk to Tony Tominia, one of the firefighters battling the blaze that night. His reply should be familiar: “100 feet of defensible space”. Yep, that old standby: It’s pretty difficult to do in a forest, with the big trees dropping fuel on our houses 365 days a year, and the underbrush working just as hard. But we gotta do it - get out there with clippers and rakes and possibly chain saws. Get that space around your house clear. One of the things you can really focus on is clearing that English ivy away, if you have it (and if you live in Camp Meeker…you do.). And don’t go all PETA on me, you darn hippies…English Ivy is a non-native plant and is aggressively successful at displacing native plants. Get out there and rip it right out of the ground. Don’t worry – it’ll grow back much faster than you want it to.

The other thing, the really important thing you can do: get really, really good at parking your car or truck. I know you’re already a jedi master of parking, because you live in Camp Meeker. You can fit that F-150 into a spot the size of a postage stamp.  But look, ninja parkers: you can always get better. You will make the VFD love you forever, because they have to maneuver those big honkin’ red shiny trucks down Camp Meeker streets to get to your house and to the nearest hydrant. If you, or your guests, are just a little lackadaisical about parking, you might block the street off. I know you’re with me on this.  

I don’t have much space left, so I will report on the doings of the CMRPD next month – they are tackling some important issues. What I have space to do here is to report the sad news that director Seth Murchison is leaving the area – he has career aspirations that can’t be met here. We wish him the best of luck and offer our thanks for his many contributions to the Camp Meeker community, the Supper Club in particular. May the road rise to meet you, Seth, and make sure to come back and visit! We will try really hard to keep that Supper Club going. We are a community, and we need to keep it that way.