Perhaps Coloradans have adjusted to seeing photos of people
evacuating their houses while dragging animals, children and
belongings behind them with wildfires raging in the background, but
when you’re that person leaving behind your home, not sure if
you’ll ever see it again, it probably doesn’t feel normal at
The last two years have seen massive, record-setting fires hit
Colorado and other states. Although they’re most prominent in the
spring and summer months, fires have been going on all year. The
risk, it seems, is never gone. So even though it’s early in the
spring and 80-degree days still seem like a novelty, there is no
safe time to have an accidental fire.
When a fire is started, wilderness, trees, animals, money and
people are affected. Wildfires can destroy huge amounts of natural
resources and property and can cost the state millions of dollars –
$1.5 million so far in the case of the Picnic Rock fire.
Who is held accountable? In this case, authorities know that
Poudre Canyon Highway resident Tony Sanchez started the fire when
he was trying to burn small piles of grass and wood chips Tuesday
morning, not knowing he needed a burn permit. A small breeze fanned
the flames, and now Colorado faces a $1.5 million bill and one
family has lost their home.
We’re sure Sanchez didn’t mean to start the fire and we’re sure
he’s very sorry. But still, where does that leave us? According to
a story in Thursday’s Denver Post, he could face misdemeanor
charges of illegal burning and could be faced with footing the
bill. Both punishments are possibilities, but as the cost grows,
the likelihood of him being able to pay drops.
People make mistakes, but when the mistakes are of this
magnitude, people need to be held accountable. He should face more
than a misdemeanor charge and should be forced to reimburse the
state somehow for the cost. If you accidentally hit someone with
your car because you didn’t know you needed a permit to drive, you
would face more than misdemeanor charges. Thankfully nobody has
lost his/her life, but at least two firefighters have been sent to
hospitals and one house has been burned down.
With the drought’s severity only increasing, little accidents or
brief lapses of intelligence, like throwing your cigarette out the
car window or cooking marshmallows in the forest, can turn into a