Sunday, January 26, 2020

Fire victims thank crews, admonish careless people

First and foremost we wish to thank all the firefighters that were involving in battling the Countryman Creek blaze, and are grateful that no one was hurt or killed.
We lost everything except for a couple of vehicles and the house itself. And some of our neighbors lost it all to that wind-driven monster.
It would be hard to count the times I wanted to enjoy a fire in the firepit despite the evening breeze. Or chainsaw some brush without bothering to go buy a big fire extinguisher first. Common sense dictated that from July until November the answer would very often be no.
We all choose to live in rural Montana because you have the freedom and room here to do things that life in a city will not allow, but with the freedom comes responsibility. There’s an old saying that “your right to swing your fist ends at the tip of my nose.”
And right now there are several families here with broken noses and shattered lives. No insurance policy can make you whole after something like this.
Using the cherished antique tools from your grandfather’s and dad’s estates, almost never having to buy supplies or another tool for household projects because you already have everything you need in the man cave and living in a beautiful setting with trees and wildlife surrounding you, all gone!
Worst of all is losing your faith that people would consider the possible effects of their actions before they impose devastating costs on others.
“I’m sorry” doesn’t mean much now, so how about some significant civil or even criminal liability for those responsible for this fire and others like it?
Will you step up and offer physical or financial help to those who now need it or will you lawyer-up and hunker down?
We who were downwind of your carelessness will be fighting with insurance companies and struggling to maintain our health and sanity while having to live in a burn scar for many years to come.
So the next time you’re tempted to play with the monster when it’s dry, ask yourself how you’ll cope if someone else lets it “off leash” and it’s your place that’s framed in a 150-foot tall curtain of destruction.
Perry and Gayle Helt
Countryman Creek Ranch, Columbus