Sunday, August 16, 2015

Fire in the Valley

I heard something on NPR this morning that startled me:  the report of major fires surrounding Lake Chelan, in Washington state.  Why did that startle me?  Half of the west coast is on fire.

It startled me because I've been there.  In 2006, my husband and I drove to Chelan, WA to see what it was like, and to stay in a tiny resort called Stehekin.  I still have a T-shirt from Stehekin.  The trip was memorable for a number of reasons, mainly because a forest fire broke out just downwind of Stehekin, the day we arrived.  I wrote that whole experience up, with photos, in 2011:   The Flick Creek Fire

This afternoon I thought I'd look the fires up and see how bad it was - it looks bad.  I remember the area as bone dry in 2006 (when we were also having a heat wave); it's on what Washingtonians call "the dry side", east of the Cascades, which block rain coming from the Pacific.  Here's the official account, from a local TV station:

Wildfires raging near Chelan destroy homes

There are 5 active fires, 3 of them quite large.  The map below will dump you into an everything map (frankly it looks like much of both northern Washington and south and east Oregon is on fire).  Use the plus key to zoom in - you're looking for the group of fires north and west of the big empty area around Moses Lake.  The key fires are the Reach, First Creek, and Antoine Creek fires.  Squaw Canyon and Black Canyon are relatively minor but the Wolverine fire is huge, although it seems to be under control.  The northern tip of the Wolverine fire is right across the lake from Stehekin.  All these fires were started by lightning strikes.

Map of fires near Chelan

There's very little "there" there around Lake Chelan.  This undoubtedly looks worse than it is, but if you happen to live in that wilderness, evacuation could be a problem. There aren't roads, to speak of; if you want to go to town from the area around Lake Chelan, you take a boat, or a helicopter if you're rich. The official account from, the local TV station, sounds as though the firefighters have it pretty well under control, but there's a long list of evacuation and road closure information.  I trust they get it under control.

Friday, August 14, 2015

Diplomacy and War

With the Iran agreement waiting for Congressional approval, there's been a lot of discussion about diplomacy versus war.  America has always had a minority of citizens, some of whom (I'm sorry to say) are now in the Congress, who feel the best way to solve any international situation is for America to bomb the crap out of it.  President Obama has taken a lot of flack from these people, because he personally prefers to negotiate, and if possible to arrange a multilateral solution.

Sir Winston Churchill knew more about war than just about anyone now living.  Born in 1874, he joined the British Army and saw action in British India, the Sudan, and the Second Boer War, followed by his service in World War I, both as First Lord of the Admiralty and later on the Western Front, and then his service as Prime Minister in World War II.  Assuming he joined the army around age 20, that means he was involved in wars, off and on, for over fifty years.

At a White House luncheon in June 1954, Churchill said, "To jaw-jaw is better than to war-war."

I think we ought to listen to him.  Let's get the Iran agreement approved, and go on to argue about something else.