I grew up in Southern California, in a place where fire is just part of life. You expect that during certain times of the year, you might have an hour to pack up the car, or you may have seconds to escape. You know to keep the most precious things either in fire safes or somewhere easily accessible. You learn that things are just that, and that even if they can't be replaced, lives are more important. You learn the power of Mother Nature.
Most people develop a tremendous amount of respect for firefighters.
Sunday, 19 of those brave souls were lost in the hills outside Prescott, Arizona in the worst wildland fire tragedy since 1933.
The names of the fallen can be found here.
The fire, sparked by lightning, lit up an area than hadn't burned in 40 years, creating it's own winds. The firefighters deployed their emergency shelters, which tells anyone who knows anything about wildland fires that it was bad, real bad, and that it got that way in a hurry.
The shelters didn't save them. Nothing could. Somehow, one survived, though how and why may not be answered for a long time, if ever.
It's not fair. Almost all these men were in their 20's, with their entire lives ahead of them. They leave behind tiny babies and dreams of futures that won't happen.
I have family in the fire service. On the police force. In the military. We know that every time they walk out the door might be the last one. It's a terrifying reality for families to deal with, but a part of the job they love.
The fire service is also a smaller world than more people realize. They tend to know each other. You know one, you know a bunch of them. They train together, they work together, they sign up for these special units together, they protect one another. For a short time yesterday, we suspected that a family friend might have been among those killed. He is on the department involved, but in a different unit.
Though I am not surprised to hear that Westboro is already planning to protest the funerals, I have hope in my heart that the good people of Arizona will do their best to shield the families and friends from their hatred.
These people, this church, they don't speak for any God. They are not a church. They are opportunistic freaks who believe that it's permissible to use any tragedy as their soapbox to spew hatred and intolerance. These people lack compassion, they are wholly devoid of emotion, they aren't human in my eyes at all. They are sign carrying brainwashed assholes who don't deserve to occupy the same planet as the families of heroes who died in the name of saving other people.
They are brainwashed assholes who mistakenly believe that the people of Arizona will put up with their shit.
I can promise you they won't.
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