Almost a year has passed since I started reporting on the Sleeper Lake Fire. Last night, I read through some of my posts from that event, read the comments you left, read the letters and emails that were sent to me, looked at all the photos that I had taken…and it is hard to believe a year has passed.
I have a big, fat folder in my filing cabinet of newspapers, the DNR fire maps, the emails and comments that you sent. It was amazing how many of you were so concerned about the fire and the devastation. I made “online friends” from as far away as Oregon due to the fire. People from Arizona sent messages (and certificates of appreciation) to me via their friends in Paradise. Some of these people have even been in the area since then and have taken the time to stop by and introduce themselves. All of them had some sort of tie to the area. I even became acquainted with a Professor of Photography from Illinois due to the fire. He has been very helpful (and patient) with all of my questions in regards to the best SLR digital camera in my price range. The poor fella has been helping me in that since last year! (Thanks Ernesto!)
We had the opportunity, as you may remember, to have had the Missouri Fire Crew from Mingo with us briefly. You may also remember what an emotional experience that was for us; how honored Dan and I felt to have them here. (We have since found out that during all the flooding in Missouri and other places that the Mingo Job Corp center, where these kids and young adults were from, had been decimated by the flooding.)
We were in the “fly zone” and had Black Hawks and Minnesota tankers flying over head all of the time. We would always try to give them a thumbs up as they flew so close over head. I joked about the pilot of one of the tankers; he was so close I could count the fillings in his teeth. When the fire crew would come back into town at night, Dan and I would try to be outside to give them a thumbs up. People in town would line the streets to hold thank you signs, applaud and give them the thumbs up. There were countless, nameless, volunteers who gave up hours of their lives providing food, water, clothing, DOING LAUNDRY for all of those on the fire line.
I don’t want any of us to forget how fortunate we were. I look at all the ruin in other parts of the U.S. this summer caused by fires and floods and it makes you thankful all over again. Things could have been so much worse for our area.
When you view the area that was the fire, you would never know that it had been less than a year ago. Within weeks of the blaze, lush, green vegetation had sprouted. It is back to being wild country once again.
In case you have never seen the Sleeper Lake Video, here is the link to it. You will want a high speed connection or a lot of time on your hands…but regardless, it is worth the time to view it;
Our thanks again to anyone and everyone who helped in whatever capacity.
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