Emanuel Cleaver


Do you ever feel that you have been beating your head against a wall? Try the feeling of beating your head against a wall for decades! That is what I am feeling now.

I started writing about fire safety and other safety issues when I was on the fire department in the 1970’s. Time and again over the years I have tried to tell readers about things that make them safer. The things I talk about are not only things I have done personally, but have been trained on continuously even to the college level. Things that were my job in the Fire Marshals Office, in the fire station, and as a private consultant. Even working through a junior college to train and advise.

My fire department protected as wide a range of hazards as any I know in the Midwest. 60% of our calls in the fire station were wildfire related. We were doing ‘urban interface’ before the term was invented. Not only this, but we have experienced major conflagration several times in just the past few years. Yet the disastrous fires keep happening over and over. DOES ANYONE EVER LEARN!

I wrote in my column about driving through Woods and Major counties in Oklahoma about the fire overload that I saw, basically all the way from Alva to Canton. Two weeks after the drive the 412 Complex fires occurred. I checked with mom last night, and she did remember me saying, that the whole country was “an open can of gasoline, just waiting for a match.” As I write this Major County, OK. and Beaver County are burning.

I have written about the Anderson Creek Fire, the Starbuck Fire, and the stupidity of the Federal Governments hodge podge of alphabet agencies mismanaging federal lands. I wrote of the deliberate controlled burn of BLM land that federal fire officers laughed about the rancher losing his cattle and a cabin that had been on the land for decades. This happened as it was being set. My outrage of the action that burned alive hundreds of head of cattle plus the fact that this parcel was not a part of the bigger complex of fire they were supposed to be controlling. I wrote the story and letters urging the ones responsible to be charged with arson and cruelty to animals. Nothing was done.

I have written about the Super Tanker from its invention at Evergreen Airlines, to the new  owners that updated the new and unique system. The 747 was used in Europe and South America as well as California with amazing results. The plan for six planes based evenly across the US would have made available a tool that did the job better than 12 current air tankers. But bureaucrats in Washington would not license or approve the planes for reasons that made no sense. What is the Supertanker doing today? Flying cargo.

The same conditions exist in Reno County that existed in the Gyp Hills, in Clark County, and in most of Oklahoma and the Texas Panhandle. So what prevention is done? Not much. The guy that was doing the right thing on Buhler road, unwittingly started a long chain of events. And I am afraid that any fire within 10 miles of his burned brush piles is going to get blamed for the next year. Being an observer from a distance, but one who was trained and one time a member of the Arson Investigators Association for a few years, I can only speculate as to what happened on the Cottonwood Complex. But I have ears and knowledge, and an opinion.

Don Quail cuts and grinds cedar trees in the Gyp Hills. The technology exists that can lessen the dangers of these massive wildfires. He just is too busy to go beyond the Gyp Hills to take down the cedar trees and grind them. The problem is not going to be solved until cedar trees are removed and people quit building in the middle of them. Burning piles are not a good idea. Grinding the trees are.

So I can write and rant, but will anything be done?

Resume beating my head against the wall. IS THERE ANYONE OUT THERE?

1 Comment
  • Lynda Fort
    Posted at 16:58h, 16 March

    Thought of you often while listening to fire at Cottonwood Complex. Amazing to find three of the homes were property of a family I was friends with in my previous life,
    Have faith they are being assisted in Reno County.