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No luck involved

I read John Hazlehurst's "Tough fire questions will come" (City Sage, July 4) and was angered with his analysis. He made it sound like Rich Harvey had some control on what the fire did and his crew left an area unfinished, which led to lost homes. Anyone who has lived in Colorado long enough knows our winds change directions very easily and are not restricted to mountain areas.

John also must remember the containment was 5 percent. The fact that Rich Harvey said, "I've never seen a fire do that" means to me he'd never worked a fire that had those characteristics. What is John Hazlehurst insinuating here?

Now I am not a fire expert and neither is John, but having watched many a training video on YouTube regarding some of the fires John brought up, to put "his article" in context, I came to this conclusion. Watching videos where firefighters died, it was clear that many of the firefighters themselves did not follow established procedures. However one video caught my eye and is listed below.

What happened that Tuesday no one could predict, but firefighters knew when winds kick up they must be on their toes and ready to retreat.

Their job at that time is to protect their lives, not what is in front of the fire. Basically, this fire produced a massive "rotating vertical plume" defined by Indians Fire Entrapment (National Interagency Fire Center, Wildland Fire Lessons Learned Center), as "a large fire whirl, tornado-like event usually generated by large fires."

Their only choice was to seek shelter. Let it blow over and then go in to fight it. John needs to watch this video tinyurl.com/indians-fire-entrapment before he insinuates Rich Harvey was maybe "just lucky."

— Gail L. Vaught


John Hazlehurst responds: Ms. Vaught assumes sinister implications where none exist. Fire behavior can be unpredictable, and wind-driven wildfires can explode rapidly, with devastating consequences. Many accounts by residents of Mountain Shadows tell of chaos and confusion on Tuesday afternoon, of evacuation warnings by helpful neighbors or via social media. We need to understand precisely what happened, and when — the entire sequence of events. Impugning the motives of those of us who raise troubling questions will not serve the interests of this community.


Sigh of relief

Now is everybody glad that Doug Bruce's cult followers didn't succeed in defunding the fire departments, to save them a buck or two on their taxes?

— Thomas McCullock

Colorado Springs

Grateful to be American

We were forced to leave our home on Tuesday, June 26. I got the final load, which was our three dogs, and left taking what I thought would be the last picture of my home on my cell phone.

The firefighters worked in record 100-degree weather and saved our house, and the police patrolled our neighborhoods for looters and stray embers.

The national media will tell you more about the looters, but let me tell you a different story. Food banks were overrun with donations. A call went out for socks because the firefighters had soaked feet, and truckloads of socks arrived. They asked for talcum powder. One lady went to buy some, but the shelves at Target had already been cleared out. When a cop came to Chipotle for dinner, I offered the cashier money to cover his burrito.

The cashier said, "Thanks, but we are already comping them." That is what makes me proud and grateful to be an American.

When Obama came to this Republican/red county the people were relieved. He brought humor, concern and the national light. He told the firefighters we can bring you equipment and resources, but we can't bring you courage. So true.

Local resources were not enough to save our city. You, my fellow taxpayers, paid for the C-130s dropping fire retardant, Hotshots from Vandenberg, the extra boots on the ground. This is the big government that some people are wailing about. I am so tickled to have it and I thank you for it.

Last note. Our state is heating up. Record highs, summer and winter, unpredictable snowfall, ongoing droughts. There is climate change in Colorado, and whether it is manmade or not is a moot point; it is happening and is affecting skiing, rafting, hiking. You helped save our city, please help save our state and our globe.

— Terri Weber

Colorado Springs

Finding a fresh view

Along with those who rubbed their eyes in disbelief when Colorado Rep. Lamborn entered/exited the presidential plane from D.C. to Colorado Springs, I too could not help but think of the hypocrisy and irony displayed in the situation, written so well by McComb ("Lamborn's Hypocracy," Letters, July 4) and Nicholl ("Unforgettable Week," Letters, July 4).

I remember standing with that colorful crowd outside Lamborn's office in the Springs almost a year ago after his infamous "tar baby" quotes directed at Obama; I remember feeling snubbed by Lamborn and associates because they couldn't seem to bother to tell us at the time why he made such racist remarks to explain his hate toward Obama's economic policies.

But now I'm ready for another view: Instead of looking aghast at Lamborn, I'm looking with increased admiration toward Obama. No matter Lamborn's motives, Obama is the one who extends his hand (and forgiveness) toward an avowed enemy. I don't think the idea to "come fly with me" was initiated by the Lamborn camp. And if Obama was the one who extended the invitation, then it was quite ingenious and Christ-like at the same time. Looking past differences to concentrate on the need at hand, finding common ground to work together — that is a government I'd like to see a bit more of, and yes, I find it quite hopeful that it took a place like our beloved (yet hurting) Colorado Springs to see it happen!

— Bruce McCluggage

Colorado Springs

Change leaders, please

Just watched Dougie standing an inch away from Barack Obama not once but twice in two hours as he aimed to get himself into TV shots as the president arrived and as he addressed the journalists at the end of his tour.

While Lamborn couldn't stand to be in the same room with Obama at the State of the Union address, apparently he can hold his breath long enough and set aside his fear of tar babies if the cameras are rolling. Can't we please get rid of this idiot?

— Brooke Hoffman Ellis

Colorado Springs

Spreading the bounty

The outpouring of support for families displaced by the Waldo Canyon fires has been truly breathtaking. Care and Share Food Bank received more than 1 million pounds of donated food in the week since the disaster response began, an amount nearly 10 times the most we had ever received in our decades of community food drives.

Unprecedented donations also mean unprecedented distributions. In the days since the disaster response began, we have delivered food around the clock to our partners in disaster response: the American Red Cross, Catholic Charities, the Salvation Army, city and county emergency responders, our social service partner agencies in the region, and of course the many sites hosting displaced families. We have delivered truckloads of pre-made food boxes, water, hydration and personal care items to our partners every day of the response. But we're not done yet.

Over the coming weeks we will continue to find strategic avenues for food distribution to our displaced neighbors, as well as to the emergency responders in our community. Our network of partner agencies will continue to be a critical conduit for food distribution to affected families, but we also have plans for creative distributions of perishable food items (eggs, milk, produce and meat) through farmers market-type events and in locations with easy access for affected families.

We invite all those displaced and affected by the Waldo Canyon fires to visit careandshare.org for updates on the timing of these special distributions, as well as to find information on partner agencies in the vicinity that can assist them with ongoing needs. The community has set a bountiful table for our hurting families and we look forward to sharing this bounty with them for many weeks to come.

— Lynne Telford

President and CEO

Care and Share Food Bank of Southern Colorado

Water the forest

I spent eight months in a small city called Abqaiq, in Saudi Arabia. Abqaiq is a city of about 30,000 people in the middle of the desert. And the Saudi desert is not a lush desert like we have in Arizona. I'm talking pure, dry sand here.

Yet to the west of Abqaiq is a nice forest. Judging from maps.google.com, it is almost 3 miles long and about 600 feet across. Go to the site, you can see it yourself.

When I asked the people of Abqaiq about this forest, they told me that they planted the trees and then sprayed their sewage water into the desert to create this forest as a barrier to the sandstorms that come mostly from the west.

Surrounding our towns and cities we have forests, but they are sometimes very dry and just waiting for a spark to ignite them. Now the Saudis have no land use for the forest except as a sandbreak so they use minimal treatment for their sewage water. Our forests are enjoyed by all and we don't want to spray dirty sewage water on them.

But the same concept could be used. Our towns and cities could heavily treat the sewage water and, instead of spraying the water, we could run it to the forest in a series of shallow pipelines that leak it into the soil. When the fires come, instead of finding a dry tinderbox of a forest ready to ignite, they will run into a circle of very moist forest. Think about how moist the forest around Colorado Springs, a city of 420,000 people, could have been using this technique.

— Michael Fenerty

Cypress, Texas


Stuck in dense fog

Is it a tax? Is it a penalty? Both or neither? Is it unconstitutional or constitutional? All of these questions and more were supposed to be answered, but after the Supreme Court's ruling June 28, things seem foggier than ever.

The Left are standing around high-fiving each other after the Affordable Care Act was upheld on flimsy grounds. The Right are standing around the baseball diamond kicking dirt and grumbling.

Sunday news programs have hosted members from both sides presenting their cases and nothing is clearer. The Left says the individual mandate is not a tax. The Right says it is. A Romney advisor went on MSNBC and mistakenly went off talking points agreeing that the mandate was not a tax. And the left jumped on it. Whoops.

Conservative pundits have made shrewd analyses that Chief Justice John Roberts' ruling was akin to him playing chess while others were playing checkers, in the vein of Chief Justice John Marshall and Marbury v. Madison.

Conversely, over that weekend a CBS News report claimed that Roberts folded faster than Superman on laundry day and gave in to, well, something.

Pressure? Criticism of a tarnished legacy as a radical activist?

The facts remain: 1) only Chief Justice Roberts, and perhaps the other justices, know the real reason why he ruled the way he did; 2) Americans are going to pay through the nose beginning in 2014; and 3) the separation of powers and checks and balances have been damaged.

And the most important fact is that those Americans are the last remaining check. Come November, a simple decision will have to be made: four more years of Obama and the same terrible "results" or a new administration under Romney and, potentially a majority in both houses that will seek to right the ship of the United States.

— Thomas De Cino


Interpreting Obamacare

In light of the recent Supreme Court decision, Obamacare cannot be mandated under the commerce clause; yet if you refuse to pay, the penalty is a tax.

This could help us as the Catholic Church, or any other church for that matter that will not violate their conscience. Since we will refuse to pay for abortion, abortifacients and contraception, we will not be allowed to purchase health insurance.

Before this ruling, we would be fined for not purchasing health insurance. Now, since the penalty is a tax, we cannot be fined because we are tax-exempt.

— Fr. Bill Carmody

Respect Life Director

Diocese of Colorado Springs

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