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Date of Issue: May 21, 2008

Sandscript

Carnage from afar, wildfire closer to home

What in the world is happening to the world?

First we had a tropical cyclone of Category 3 status that struck Myranmar. The devastation was, well, devastating, with the American Red Cross estimating more than 130,000 people dead. There also is another storm churning off the coast and threatening the region.

Then there was the earthquake in China. Some reports stated that the damage ranged through an area that could pretty much represent the United States. Death toll to date is more than 30,000.

Pictures and video footage of the China damage is mind boggling unless you consider some sort of atomic bomb.

Then there were tornados in the Midwest of the United States, flooding in Louisiana and Mississippi, and our own wildfires.

Fires in Florida have encompassed more than 32,000 acres, demolished 20-or-so homes and damaged 160, most in the eastern part of the state.

A friend offered a suggestion regarding wildfires. She said that back in the day when people wanted to live rural, they would clear-cut a big space and put in a house.

You’re got to remember that fire is a natural part of the rural Florida environment. It causes a sort of cleansing of the region. Some forest fires are good. Burning of the brush is part of the ecosystem. But putting a house in the middle of the burn area in not natural and causes distress, obviously, to the homeowners.

What’s happening today, though, are people tucking their woodsy houses under and amid the woods. No clearing of the land. All natural. All fire prone.

The state of Florida has come up with a name for it all: wild land urban interface. West Manatee Fire and Rescue District Chief Andy Price said that the Florida Division of Forestry has augmented a program to try to get folks out in the wood to start to deal with the brush and trees around and over their homes to protect them from fires.

California, he said, has an aggressive program to deal with the matter. That state has lots of wildfires every year.

That state’s program calls for no vegetation to be planted within X-feet of a structure, has code enforcement officers going out to check the distance, and levies hefty fines for violators of vegetation limits.

Good news locally is that Price said there are only a few houses in the district, which includes Anna Maria Island, Cortez and northwest Bradenton, that could have such a problem with fire in the woods.

 

To the beach

This note is a harbinger of something.

Sarasota County commissioners have asked a consultant to work out details of paid parking for all the beaches in that county. Fee rates discussed have been $2 per hour for the county’s nine beaches.

A charge to park to go to the beach has been broached more times than memory serves in this region. Yes, it would provide revenue for beach enhancements. Yes, it would perhaps restrict some “undesirable” beachgoers.

The flip is that a family will have access to public beaches somewhat limited due to the cost of one of the last free spaces around.

Sarasota County will make a decision later this year on the matter.

And then there are those crazy ants

 

You got ants, I got ants, all God’s children got ants.

Inside. Outside. All around the house.

Welcome to Florida.

But a swarm of what is called “crazy raspberry ants” have hit the Houston, Texas, area of late.

Good news is that the ants seem to love fire ants and eat them big-time.

Bad news is that, for reasons that scientists can’t seem to figure out, they are also attracted to electrics.

The ants, roughly the size of a flea, have swarmed over sewer plants, electrical connections in homes and are threatening NASA and airport facilities in the Houston area.

 

Sandscript factoid

Chief Price mentioned that there is an interlocal agreement with all of the counties in Florida that is a basic “Help!” call when wildfire run amok.

WMFR has not been tapped for aid to quell the estimated 32,000 acres of fire in the state, but Price said there are several firefighters on the force that are trained for such action and are ready when needed.

In the past, firefighters here have gone to the west to assist in wildfire fighting in states there.

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