In wildfire news today, there's an old saying that states 'it's an ill wind that blows no good', and one Southern California movie ranch burned out by the Station Fire has discovered a small silver lining to their disaster (1); followed by a story about San Diego firefighters who used some extra money to help a disadvantaged family for Christmas, something they hope to turn into a holiday tradition (2). Two stories about the highly unpopular plan by SDG&E to shut off power during red flag days in San Diego's rural communities are up next (3)(4). In contrast to all the stories about utility company equipment starting wildfires, an employee of utility company PG&E in Napa County actually put out a wildfire (5)! Trouble in paradise as a wildfire spread past the 1,000 acre mark outside of Honolulu, Hawaii (6). With more than $500,000 in damages already wrought over the last three months, authorities in Victoria are hunting urgently for prolific firebugs plaguing the region (7); while survivors of a horrific bushfire many years ago talk about the ghosts that still haunt them from that event (8); and residents of one town in that state have been warned not to shelter at a local school at which the hydrant system has been inoperative for nearly a year (9). Fire aviators in New South Wales are doubling down their bet on Air-Cranes as Delilah joins Elvis on the fire lines, part of a contingent of over 120 helicopter and fixed wing air tankers available to battle bushfires this season in that state (10); no doubt several of which were part of the contingent battling a 22,000 acre blaze burning in rugged terrain (11). In South Australia, Country Fire Service has mailed out over 200,000 DVDs with updated rules and regulations implemented in the wake of Victoria's Black Saturday debacle (12). And finally, a story from Phoenix that was passed along by Wildfire News Of The Day reader Ruben Flores about Arizona firefighters fulfilling a dying boy's fondest wish.
Wildfire NOTD will be taking a long winter's nap, returning 1/4/2010. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to you all!
(1) L.A.-area movie ranch hits upon a sequel after fire
(2) Firefighters use extra money to help moms, kids
(3) Mediation Over SDG&E’s Power Shut-Off Plan Moves Slowly
(4) SDG&E, critics gather for talks
(5) The accidental firefighter
(6) Crews Battle Wildfire Above Kealakekua
(7) Major bushfire fears as police hunt arsonists
(8) Ghosts of Ash Wednesday still walk with the survivors
(9) No refuge here: school's fire defences crippled
(10) Second aircrane to help NSW firefighters
(11) Fire ravaging land, homes in Australia
(12) CFS systems are prepped 'to go'
Am I A Firefighter Yet?
In Phoenix, Arizona, a 26 year-old mother stared down at her 6 year-old son, who was dying of terminal leukemia. Although her heart was filled with sadness, she also had a strong feeling of determination. Like any parent, she wanted her son to grow up & fulfill all his dreams. Now, that was no longer possible. The leukemia would see to that. But she still wanted her son's dream to come true. She took her son' s hand and asked, 'Billy, did you ever think about what you wanted to be once you grew up? Did you ever dream and wish what you would do with your life?' ‘Mommy, I always wanted to be a fireman when I grew up.' Mom smiled back and said, 'Let's see if we can make your wish come true.' Later that day she went to her local fire Department in where she met Fireman Bob, who had a heart as big as Phoenix! She explained her son's final wish and asked if it might be possible to give her 6-year-old son a ride around the block on a fire engine. Fireman Bob said, 'Look, we can do better than that. If you'll have your son ready at seven o'clock Wednesday morning, we'll make him an Honorary Fireman for the whole day. He can come down to the fire station, eat with us, go out on all the fire calls, the whole nine yards! And if you'll give us his sizes, we'll get a real fire uniform for him, with a real fire hat – not a toy – one with the emblem of the Phoenix Fire Department on it, a yellow slicker like we wear, and rubber boots. They're all manufactured right here in Phoenix, so we can get them fast.' Three days later Fireman Bob picked up Billy, dressed him in his uniform and escorted him from his hospital bed to the waiting hook and ladder truck. Billy got to sit on the back of the truck and help steer it back to the fire station. He was in heaven. There were three fire calls in Phoenix that day and Billy got to go out on all three calls. He rode in the different fire engines, the Paramedic's' van, and even the fire chief's car. He was also videotaped for the local news program. Having his dream come true, with all the love and attention that was lavished upon him so deeply touched Billy that he lived three months longer than any doctor thought possible. One night all of his vital signs began to drop dramatically and the head nurse, who believed in the hospice concept - that no one should die alone - began to call the family members to the hospital. Then she remembered the day Billy had spent as a fireman, so she called the Fire Chief and asked if it would be possible to send a fireman in uniform to the hospital to be with Billy as he made his transition. The chief replied, 'We can do better than that. We'll be there in five minutes. Will you please do me a favor? When you hear the sirens screaming and see the lights flashing, will you announce over the PA system that there is not a fire? It's the department coming to see one of its finest members one more time. And will you open the window to his room?' About five minutes later a hook and ladder truck arrived at the hospital and extended its ladder up to Billy's third floor open window and 16 firefighters climbed up the ladder into Billy's room. With his mother's permission, they hugged him and held him and told him how much they loved him. With his dying breath, Billy looked up at the fire chief and said, 'Chief, am I really a fireman now?' 'Billy, you are, and the Head Chief, Jesus, is holding your hand,' the chief said. With those words, Billy smiled and said, 'I know, He's been holding my hand all day, and the angels have been singing.' He closed his eyes one last time.