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Wildfires in Texas

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Published on Oct 1, 2011

Jeremy and Jerry discuss the devastating wildfires in Texas that happened in late summer 2011.


SCRIPT:

We're right out here in Tomball, which is south of one of the places that the fires are happening, out in Magnolia. So, we could get a good whiff of the smoke and everything coming in. [Yikes!] That was about a week ago, though.

Did it contaminate your air out there? I mean, was it hard to breathe?

It was a little overwhelming, the smell. And you could actually from our home, just step out into the street and see the smoke billowing out. And this is like, many miles away from our home, and just a huge stream of smoke moving across the sky. It almost looks just like a cloud, but we knew it was from the fire 'cause it was coming directly out of the earth, pretty much.

I don't recall Texas having chronic problems with wildfires. I usually associate that with California. But, we've had such an unrelenting drought this summer. My parents live out in Smithville. In 2009, they lost their house, and during that fire only 25 houses were lost. And this time, gosh, over a thousand houses were consumed by this wildfire.

Something like 34,000 acres of land that has been burned up.

It's hard to know what to make of this. Some might chalk this phenomena up to global warming, or global climate change. But there's just been this high pressure system over our area, and it wouldn't budge.

I don't recall it ever being a hundred degrees in September, but hopefully it's going to simmer down soon.

Our superintendent instructed us to try and equip the students to be knowledgeable about what to do in natural disasters such as these...what to stock up on...how to prepare against the possibility of a fire.

If something like that seems like it's approaching, I guess you need to have something portable, you know, ready to take on the go. And maybe also, make a list of the most valuable things that you would take.

The whole place has just been dry for so long. It was like a tinderbox. It just, it was just a matter of time, you know.

It makes me wonder what exactly ignites the fire. I understand someone could throw a cigarette out the window, and that would do it, but that can't always be the case. What else would start a fire? Is it purely the heat of the sun, and a little piece of grass rubs up against another piece of grass, and there it goes.

Spontaneously combusts, yeah? [Don't know.] You know, I'm skeptical about when I hear reports that someone threw a cigarette butt out of a window, and that's what started it. How in the world would they know? Really. I'd heard about, many years ago, a wildfire in California was started because this park ranger took an old love letter from her former husband, and she burned it out in the woods. [And they found it?] And that started the fire? I don't think that's likely. I mean, it's hard to pinpoint how and when something like this could happen, 'cause it could happen anywhere.

You mentioned something about global warming. We want to find a reason, and just to say something, well this is just the way the earth works throughout the ages every so many thousands of years. It's not satisfactory to a lot of us. We want to find someone to pin the blame on.

That makes sense. If something horrible happens, it's easier to cope with it if we process it like it's a matter of injustice, you know, something someone did that caused me to lose my house in this fire. It just feels like I could have a sense of, maybe closure, or satisfaction, like you said, if I could blame it on a person or people in general, you know , the human race.

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