Friday, August 10, 2012

I was in Tulsa, Okla., for a musical show on Saturday. As my wife and I left the Boston Avenue Baptist Church downtown, we found the sky, which had been perfectly clear when we arrived, apparently clouded over. There was an odd reddish haze in the clouds and the smell of smoke. The sun was covered over so that only a dim orange orb peeked through.

The radio shortly interrupted the music with the Emergency Broadcast System. Wildfires were rapidly spreading southwest of the city. Residents in Sand Springs and Drumright were being ordered to evacuate and given specific directions where to go.

Ashes fell on our windshield as we drove across town. People we met were alarmed.

We're becoming more familiar with raging wildfires in Missouri in the current drought. We're not that familiar with having homes threatened, or facing fires that move faster than firefighters and their vehicles.

Our vulnerability to tornadoes has already acquainted us with feeling like a sitting duck. Seeing a fire coming and not being able to do anything about it is very unnerving.

Spending a short amount of time with local firefighters at nearby grass fires can quickly reveal a great deal. Dedicated, trained and focused, our firefighters are a treasure. They've been put to the test a lot lately. Despite the demands on their time, for many are volunteers, they keep coming back.

Some may claim you can always replace for a firefighter. Finding people willing to do their kind of work year after year is no small achievement. Yet there are people like that in each of towns around Monett.

We tend to see our firefighters either not busy or in the middle of an emergency, like responding to a car crash. Their efforts are every bit as important as running for public office.

When conditions are appropriate, take time to thank a firefighter for keeping our communities a safer place. You never know when they will be the only thing standing between normalcy and the farthest thing from it.