That was the message from the governor's representative, Mike King, last night at the Conifer Town Hall meeting. "We will do everything humanly possible to prevent this from happening again." Everything except say..... oh I don't know, removing immunity from government officials and holding someone to account. I suppose that is beyond human reach.
We also discovered last night that, "In the future, there will be one person accountable and that person will answer directly to the governor." 'Wait a minute', you say. 'Are you telling me that isn't the case now?!' Yes, that's exactly what I am telling you. Not only are these idiots immune to prosecution, but they are accountable to no one, at least not the governor.
The whole thing was a bunch of fluff, hand waving and reassurances that the lessons learned would benefit others in the future. Well, isn't that nice. I am so glad they learned some lessons. That really should help. For those that lost their lives, lost loved ones and/or lost homes, I am sure they will sleep better. I for one could really give a good God damn if they learned their lessons, "we paid the tuition", as one man said.
Coe Meyer, my neighbor who also lost his home, said in an interview with WKOA that "the operation was successful but the patient died." Well said, Coe. How many operations does it take to realize they are killing the patient. Apparently, in this case, at least two.
So, let's look at the facts...
In the burn plan review, and from the governor's office, in October of last year they were performing a test burn under very similar conditions in the exact same location. Guess what? The fire got away from them and they had to scramble to put it out and barely averted a wild fire. Are you kidding me!? This taught them nothing. I suppose since there was no one really watching, it didn't count.
Also, according to the review, and in direct violation of the burn plan, no one was monitoring the burn. I watched the fire smolder from Thursday to Sunday before I left for business trip in Seattle. It said in the report that they dropped in and noticed the fire was still burning, did exactly nothing, and left again. Now, I want to back up for just a second. The report also stated the need for better, more high tech weather forecasting. I have a little app on my smart phone called Weather Bug that had been sending me Fire Weather warnings all through March. And, it had forecasted high winds starting several days prior to the 26th. If I have access to that information, what the hell are they talking about? I think what they really need is a transfusion of common sense. Any idiot knows that if you have tinder box conditions and winds forecasted, you don't start a fire much less walk away from one you already started.
So, a fire weather watch, meaning high winds, was issued on the 24th. That was predicted to be upgraded to a Red Flag warning on the 25th and on the 26th was upgraded to a Red Flag (meaning, "Jesus Fucking Christ, you better not have an open fire or you Fucked!!"... sorry, I digress.) So, they sent the ICT4 (Incident Comander) and two firemen in a pickup truck to check it out. By then the wind was gusting up to 60 mph, they put out two spot fires before the third one got away from them. Brilliant! They must have been busier than a one legged man in an ass-kicking contest. And I don't mean to disparage our fire fighters, they do one helluva job. But the folks running this operation should be dealt with like any other criminally negligent tool.
Finally, I was told last night by Mike King, the governor's representative, that the person in charge of the burn is dealing with a terminally ill family member and "his head really isn't in the game." First of all, I would like to offer my deepest sympathy. I can imagine how distracting and heart wrenching that must be. I can imagine that because I just lost nearly everything I owned and almost lost my wife in that fire. So, I can guess at how that could impact someones judgment. In my case, I have had to ask people to cover for me on days when I cannot think straight because I am aware that I am not functioning at full capacity. That is because, it does not matter how I feel about it or what my intentions are, if I do not perform, I am ultimately responsible.
I wish we could all be judged on our intentions. Then I could do whatever I wanted and not be held responsible, because "I didn't mean to do it." By extension of that logic, the woman that started the Hayman fire should be released of all responsibility because she was feeling jilted. The CIA agents involved in the prostitution scandal should not be held to a higher standard because if they had known they were going to get caught, they wouldn't have hired those prostitutes and they didn't mean to give the CIA a black eye. The alcoholic who kills a family while driving in a black-out should be released from prison because they swear they learned their lesson and will never do THAT again.
Seriously, this is criminal negligence. And no amount of good intentions is going to change the fact that they did not follow their own plan, they burned 4100 acres, 21 homes (27 structures) and killed 3 people.