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Apr 052004
 
Authors: Collegian Editorial Staff

By:

Shandra Jordan

Colleen Buhrer

Kyle Endres

Willow Welter

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

all.

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

major disaster.

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