Don't be fooled by the back-to-school ads and preseason football. The 2014 fire season is far from over.
So far this summer, we've been fortunate. Despite record drought and plenty of lightning, intrepid fire crews have managed to keep a handle on the blazes that have ignited, and we've generally been spared the enormous infernos that blanket the valley in smoke so thick it blots out the sun.
But that's not an excuse to let down our guard. Especially in Ashland, where many homes encroach on the watershed high above the boulevard, fire is an ever-present threat.
This summer, the lightning storms frequently have been accompanied by enough rain to dampen fuels and boost humidity, helping firefighters keep conflagrations at bay. But that doesn't mean the next thunderstorm won't be bone-dry.
September may be just around the corner, but the end of fire season is not. Those who were here in 1987 will remember that the Silver Complex fires started when a lightning storm swept across the region on Aug. 30. The resulting fires consumed 100,000 acres and burned until November.
Homeowners, especially those with houses in the forest interface, can and should do their part by creating defensible space around their properties — removing vegetation near structures, thinning trees and keeping grass mowed. Fire-resistant building materials such as metal roofs also are recommended.
We can't do anything about the weather, and preventing all wildfires is not an option. What we can do is prepare as best we can for the fires that will come.