Waterfall fire's legacy not entirely negative

One year later, and some of the scars have begun to heal.

Thursday will mark the first anniversary of the Waterfall fire, the worst to hit Carson City in its history. We hope there will never be another like it.

As we talked to people most affected by the fire for the Nevada Appeal's coverage in today's edition, we were struck by the range of emotions they are feeling now.

Bitterness, to be sure. Reconciliation for many. And then there are those who have embraced their hardships as an opportunity for a new beginning.

Among Carson City residents, there will remain a sense of anger until the person who started the fire is identified and offers some explanation and apology. It appears to have been an act of negligence - a fire left smoldering in a remote spot in Kings Canyon - and not an intentional arson. Knowing would bring a sense of closure.

Most have accepted with resignation the fact that bad things happen to communities sometimes. Families are rebuilding. The hillsides are being rehabilitated. Work goes on to create more firebreaks, more defensible space, more protection for the watershed. We hope to be old-timers someday who can point and say, "Right over there. That's where the Waterfall fire took place in 2004. Nowadays, you can hardly tell."

From fire also comes new life. Some Carson City residents who suffered potentially devastating losses have been able to step back and realize what's truly important in their lives. They lost heirlooms and valuables and some of their favorite possessions in the world.

But they didn't lose their families, many of whom came together like never before. They didn't lose their sense of community, a strength demonstrated over and over again on those five days in July. They didn't lose their determination to build a happy and productive life in Carson City.

That's a lesson the rest of us would do well to remember on every anniversary of the Waterfall fire.


Use the comment form below to begin a discussion about this content.

Sign in to comment