Much like seeing a train wreck, a 10-car pile-up or your favorite football team lose by 50 points — watching the nearly 100,000 acre Funny River Road Horse Trail wildfire is both terrifying and magnetic.
Perhaps it’s a reminder of our own mortality or the insignificance of man’s place in the world or, more likely, it’s that we can’t wait to get our phones out and broadcast a photo of life, the universe and everything to everyone who follows us on Instagram.
Regardless of the reasoning, there are several things that residents and visitors can do to make life easier for the 400 or so firefighting personnel on the ground and keeping us safe.
Do you live here? Are you in the fire’s path? It’s time to fire-wise your home if you haven’t already. Thin the vegetation around your home and get rid of all of the extra burnable piles laying around your yard. The further you are from vegetation, the less likely it is to catch fire and ignite your home. Remove all combustible material including firewood, gas grills and flammable debris from the vicinity of your house and make sure firefighters have a clear path to get where they need to be to save your home if it comes to that — though we hope it doesn’t.
There’s a burn ban in effect for the Kenai Peninsula — follow it. No bonfire with friends or nagging slash pile is worth the spread of another wildfire.
Stay out of the road. We know that the panorama at Mile 106 of the Sterling Highway looks good. We’ve been there too. Your family and friends will be suitably impressed with the view of that 10,000-foot plume of smoke and the colors at sunset are excellent. But, if you have to step into the highway to get a shot, you’re doing it wrong.
If you see an emergency vehicle, get out of the way. If someone from one of the many agencies responding to the fire asks you to move, shut off your camera and get out of the way. At no point does your photograph or view of the event trump the actual event — don’t be that person.
If you can, stay off of the Sterling Highway between Kasilof and Soldotna — take Kalifornsky Beach Road instead. If you don’t live on Funny River Road, stay away from it.
Be mindful of the people around you and cognizant of the high amount of stress we’re all operating under. Let’s hope Memorial Day is as safe and as happy as is possible.