Facing consequences of negligence
We admit we assumed the worst when initial reports indicated the cause of the Waterfall fire might have been a group of teenagers partying in Kings Canyon.
Like a lot of people, we jumped to the conclusion that some irresponsible youngsters had been the cause of so much disaster and grief for the people of Carson City.
Now investigators say they have traced the source to an illegal campfire in a site which is a 45-minute hike from a closed gate, eliminating the possibility of the teenage-party scenario.
It doesn’t help the people who lost homes and possessions to the fire, but at least we can erase that image from our minds.
Unfortunately, instead we have a scenario in which someone walked past “no campfires” signs into the middle of a tinder-dry forest and did two unthinkable things – started a fire, then failed to extinguish it.
The consequences of those acts: A charred west side of Carson City, homes reduced to smoldering rubble, thousands of people forced to flee their homes, injured firefighters, costs in the millions of dollars.
We can’t really guess at the likelihood of authorities finding and prosecuting someone for this fire. We hope people will continue to cooperate in calling the Sheriff’s Office or Secret Witness to let investigators know any helpful information – vehicles seen going into Kings Canyon the weekend before the fire, people known to frequent the area, hikers who may have seen something suspicious.
In the end, we also hope the blame for this fire can be pinned on someone. There need to be legal consequences, although whatever penalty or restitution is exacted will pale in comparison to the destruction caused by that person’s negligence.
The worst wildfire in Carson’s history isn’t quite over, and yet conditions exist for it to be repeated in some other nearby area or almost any community along the Sierra Nevada.
One smoldering campfire is all it took.