Stopping Parkway Fires

An excellent article in today’s Sacramento Bee about the recent Parkway fires and how it is past time to stop them.

I was at the meeting he notes and some good strategies were discussed.

Let’s hope they get implemented in an effective enough way to actually resolve the illegal camping in the Parkway—which all agree is probably the main cause of the Parkway fires—once and for all.

An excerpt from the Bee article.

Who knew that an alarming spate of urban fires in Sacramento could inspire silence? Yet that is the situation based on the location of the fires.

It’s all about the location.

If urban fires were occurring frequently in any other densely populated area besides the lower stretch of the American River Parkway, it would be a big story. Politicians would be demanding answers, particularly if the fires were suspected to be caused by humans.

But 15 fires have broken out between Discovery Park and Campus Commons since May 25, according to Sacramento County officials. Officials believe or suspect that humans have caused many if not most of the fires, either accidentally or intentionally.

These fires have burned near businesses and homes and widely used bike trails. They have destroyed the area’s natural beauty and filled the air with smoke.

Where’s the outrage? Where’s the fear for public safety?

Why isn’t there more concern that four fires burned on Aug. 11 alone near Discovery Park?

Local media accounts of the Aug. 11 fires described flames jumping Garden Highway and threatening an apartment complex. They described panicked residents turning on their own water hoses because they feared Sacramento firefighters wouldn’t arrive in time to save their homes.

On Monday, another fire broke out near Discovery Park, one that forced Sacramento firefighters to battle the blaze with water cannons shot from a boat on the American River. Large trees weakened by previous fires had made it too hazardous to approach on the ground.

“Limbs started falling,” Chris Harvey of the Sacramento Fire Department told Capital Public Radio. “It’s very scary. You hear the cracking noise. The captains that are back there working the crews basically alerted everybody, and everyone backed up.”

Phil Serna, a Sacramento County supervisor, said that county officials – including county CEO Brad Hudson – went to inspect the fire damages on Monday and found a camp stove resting in the middle of a burned campsite.

That’s why people in Sacramento mostly have stayed silent one dangerous fire after another.

Sacramento County is far too permissive in allowing illegal camping along the lower stretch of the American River Parkway. And fear of offending people discourages honest discussion about the dangers being caused by campers, the majority of whom are homeless.

Read more here:


About David H Lukenbill

I am a native of Sacramento, as are my wife and daughter. I am a consultant to nonprofit organizations, and have a Bachelor of Science degree in Organizational Behavior and a Master of Public Administration degree, both from the University of San Francisco. We live along the American River with two cats and all the wild critters we can feed. I am the founding president of the American River Parkway Preservation Society and currently serve as the CFO and Senior Policy Director. I also volunteer as the President of The Lampstand Foundation, a nonprofit organization I founded in 2003.
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