Saturday, January 8, 2011

After the Fire

During the week between Christmas and New Years, we decided to combine a few errands and take a day trip north to Haifa (about an hour drive up the coast).  This is the town that Dan lived in until he was 13 years old and moved to the States.  When he was young, his family and friends used to frequent the Carmel Mountains for picnics on weekends. 

Per a previous post, these mountains lit up in a record-breaking forest fire at the beginning of December, ushering in a very solemn start to Channukah.  It took international support to put it out.  But a bus load of prison guards got caught and died in the flames before they got there.  Our cousin even knew one of the young women who was on the bus.  Being in a small country, I have often found that someone we know has had a direct connection to events here like this.  That's obviously quite different than my experience with U.S. news which often feels remote. 

We drove out to the prison that sits among these hills (they call them mountains here, but compared to the Cascades in northwest U.S., well, there is no comparison).  As you can see from these pictures, the fire successfully devastated the trees.  Areas that were once picnic spots had only charred black spindles of branches left.  The facilities, once likely hidden nicely by the foliage now stuck out like a soar thumb on the hillside. 

The fire must have burned hot and moved fast, as you can see this pine cone got scorched, but still shows wood coloring on the inside. 

There has been talk in the news about the best strategy to renew the area.  Forest fires are of course a natural part of nature's process to destroy and renew itself periodically.  The question remains whether an area that has experienced such extremes (severe drout before the fire) needs a helping hand, or is better left to run it's course. 

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