On July 25, 2009, lightning sparked a fire in a wilderness area located in the Pine Valley Mountains of southwestern Utah. The USDA Forest Service let it burn for a month, calling it a "managed burn."
I watched the smoke from this fire in the mountains to the northwest of my home and thought that there would be major problems if it got bigger and threatened the town of New Harmony nestled in the valley below.
As late as Thursday, August 27, the Forest Service was answering complaints that nothing was being done to contain this fire by explaining that Forest Service policy for fire management in wilderness areas permits lightning fires to play out their natural ecological role, until it breaks the bounds of a predetermined area, when officials would take a more proactive role.
"It's not even close to getting to that point right now though," said Dixie National Forest spokeswoman Andi Falsetto. "The fire is being monitored daily."
It passed that point. By Saturday the 29th, low humidity and high winds caused the fire to explode. Called the Mill Flat Fire, it's now (at the time this is being written) well over 10,000 acres big and is headed for New Harmony. It's burned at least three dwellings and numerous other structures. Inhabitants of the town have been evacuated.
There was a point in the life of this fire when, after a series of rainstorms, a single truck and small crew could have extinguished it. However, the people who went to college to learn public land management were more concerned with crafting condescending statements to counter legitimate queries than they were to fight the fire. Now, they're paying for their arrogance and ignorance.
I hope that no people, either residents or firefighters, will be hurt because of this fire. The Forest Service (and BLM, NPS, etc.) better rethink the policy that all fires are good and that people who question this are idiots who should be treated as children. Not all fires are good. The greenies who "sparked" this policy should be the first line of defense in fighting this, and all other fires that threaten lives. They might have more respect for human life when their own is on the line.
Let's change the subject. I was amazed at the responses received from my editorials about automotive warranties. Almost all of the correspondence told of warranty nightmares experienced by readers.
I wrote about how extended warranties were worthless and seldom honored. I've now had a positive experience I'd like to tell you about.
During the time we've owned our 2007 GMC Yukon, the only problem experienced was warped brake rotors. Lately, oil spots were appearing under the vehicle when parked. I crawled underneath and saw that the front pinion seal was leaking as well as an inner axle seal. That didn't explain the oil spots, though, as they were motor oil, not gear oil. The crankcase drain plug and oil filter weren't leaking.
As our local GMC dealer's service department isn't great, I took the Yukon XL to Steven Wade Chevrolet in St. George, Utah. The Steven Wade Auto Group's service departments have good reputations and I figured I could get the pinion and axle seals repaired while we figured out where the motor oil was coming from.
I received a call from Dave, the service writer, who told me they found that the rear main was leaking. I hadn't bothered to look that far back on the engine in my search and was surprised at this diagnosis. I told them to go ahead and repair everything.
When I picked up the Yukon, Dave told me that there was no charge for the repairs. He said that everything was covered under warranty. What a pleasant surprise! While there are many warranty nightmare stories to tell, it's nice to be able to report that there are still great dealerships that honor warranties and do good work.