Ashland Fire Marshal Margueritte Hickman's last day on the job will be Thursday, but she was still busy recently helping a local senior care home get outfitted with a sprinkler system. And we're sure she'll be keeping a watchful eye out now that wildfire season has begun in earnest.
Hickman, Ashland's first female fire marshal, has been the public face of Ashland Fire & Rescue as its public information officer. She was active in promoting the city's Firewise Communities program, which helps property owners work to prevent wildfire, a particular danger in the wildland-urban interface common in much of Ashland.
As Hickman prepared to bid her career adieu, as if on cue, a lightning storm swept through the valley on Sunday, igniting more than a dozen small fires. A second storm on Monday struck mainly to the east, avoiding the valley.
The June lightning was early for this area — thunderstorms usually occur a bit later in the season — but they are a reminder that fire can happen at any time. Also on Sunday afternoon, a mower touched off an Ashland grass fire east of the freeway. The mowing took place during permitted hours — it's banned from 1 to 8 p.m. during fire season, and the fire was reported at 12:45 — but that's obviously no guarantee.
July 4 is approaching, and with it the risk of fire from errant fireworks. We know Hickman would remind everyone to be careful out there. We thank her for her service.