Fire Danger Situation Is Grave

PINE-STRAWBERRY

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It sure is different sitting here at the computer looking out at my property which now has trees scattered here and there, rather than the thick forest I had before the Fuel Reduction crew came through. It takes a bit of getting used to, but I know I am safer.

I am now looking forward to spring when my many baby oaks will burst into leaf and grow big and strong since they now have room. Hopefully we will have moisture for them. My neighbors also took advantage of this opportunity for thinning, so our corner of the world is in pretty good shape. However, I attended a meeting last night with Mike Brandt. The situation here is grave. We all need to get busy with our properties and encourage our neighbors to do the same. Reducing the fuels is the only way we can protect our homes.

The moisture level in the trees in the forest all around us is much lower than last year. Mike mentioned how stressed all these trees are. You can see it as you look around. Without moisture, they will fall victim to bark beetle and fire. Many are dying due to lack of water. It is a frightening time. We all must take the situation seriously.

It is vitally important that all homes have a working smoke detector. The Pine/Strawberry Fire Department is sponsoring a smoke detector program during the month of February. They will come to your home and show you how to clean your smoke detector and they will install one for you. They have a few smoke detectors available for those who might not have one. Call the Pine Strawberry Fire Department, (928) 476-4272, for information about this wonderful, potentially life-saving program. They make house calls.

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Before being attacked by the Fuel Reduction Crew this property looked much like the forest. But after the attack, there is open space, reducing the risk of fire.

Valentine's Day is right around the corner. Several restaurants in Pine and Strawberry are preparing special dinners for the occasion. Rimside Grill is having a Valentine's Dinner from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m., with live music and three special entrees to choose from. Mogollon Steak House, formerly the Black Bear, is having a special menu and lots of extras. Also, Pine Verde Mexican Restaurant is having a special Mexican dinner. Giuseppe's in Strawberry always has a special menu for Valentine's Day. Be sure to call your favorite restaurant to make reservations.

The restaurants need to let me know if they are having something special on occasions such as this. Contact me at the addresses below.

The Pine Library is now open on Thursday evening until 7 p.m., rather than Tuesday evening.

A very proud mother sent an e-mail regarding her son, Air Force Major Tilghman Rittenhouse, who recently volunteered to go to Guantanamo, Cuba for a minimum of four months. She has reason to be proud -- her son received an appointment to the Air Force Academy from Senator John McCain and Congressman Bob Stump. After graduation, he received a scholarship to Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) to obtain a Master's Degree, and then the Air Force sent him to the University of Illinois for his doctorate in chemistry. Now he feels it is time to give back. Although Rittenhouse did not attend school here, he has been coming to Pine with his mother since 1984. His mother, Sara Rittenhouse, now lives here full time.

Hopefully, the snow will come. However, we all need to be especially careful. If you or anyone you know is a smoker, please preach about the dangers of throwing the cigarette butts out a car window or anywhere in the forest. It is so frightening to see all the butts along the road. These dry pine needles are everywhere. What a terrible feeling to think that you might have started a serious fire.

Please provide information for this column regarding upcoming events, activities and items of interest for residents and visitors of Pine and Strawberry. Call or fax (928) 476-2239 or e-mail cpwrather@earthlink.net.

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