Where do you even start?

Every now and then, with growing frequency, we shake our heads and utter our thoughts about how it couldn’t get much worse. The topic is fires – in California and throughout the West.

Over the last few years, thousands of homes and businesses were lost, and there have been hundreds of deaths. Whole small cities lost. The city of Paradise was leveled in our own backyard.

Our major utility provider was forced into bankruptcy.

And here we are just two years later with fires rampaging and breaking all the records.

Some 30 structures were destroyed Wednesday as the Willow Fire swept through the Yuba County foothills -- more than a dozen homes. The community of Loma Rica was threatened and damaged again -- just three years ago major damage was done there and four lives lost.

The air around here is terrible, as it is all up and down the West.

We’re hosting evacuees from all over the region. There will likely be more. (Which direction do you go if you have to leave? It gets hard to tell.)

Whose fault is it?

It’s the fault of all of us and our elected leaders, local, state and federal, who continue to not make it a major issue and work on a new strategy for how we spread our growing population out through the countryside, how we manage timber resources, how we plan for emergency situations so we don’t run our too-few response personnel and equipment into the ground.

It’s just ... where do you start? As well as fire, there’s the economy, the pandemic, public safety issues, tax burden, trade wars and wars ... a hundred important issues.

But a changing environment that makes disastrous fires more and more likely can’t be ignored. We can’t go on too much longer with fires like this.

What do you do to prevent future conflagrations; and what do you do to safeguard our particular communities? Those are questions for all candidates – not who they blame, but what they can do.

**

Thumbs Up: We’re very happy to be working with the Chamber of Commerce on a series of candidate forums towards the end of September. We’ll be questioning candidates for Sutter County supervisors, Yuba City council members, Yuba County supervisors, Marysville council and mayor.

We’d like to thank Sierra Central Credit Union and others for underwriting and sponsoring the events.

What we need now is a long list of questions for all the candidates. Please email me your suggestions at smiller@appealdemocrat.com.

**

Thumbs Down: This one is a little gross. Sorry in advance.

I was in the car, sitting in the turn lane at the light at 10th and G. I looked around and spied him. A man with few inhibitions. I was thinking, “Wait. What? No ... don’t.”

I picked up my phone thinking I’d call the police, but thought better of trying to make a call as I was waiting for the light.

The problem? The fellow was going No. 1 there on the corner. He did at least turn away from the highway. Then he zipped up, punched the button and waited for the walking light before nonchalantly crossing in front of us.

A few minutes later, when I arrived at my parking place, I could have called it in. I didn’t ... the man without inhibitions was long gone by then.

Is there value in letting police know, even if they can’t do anything? A friend on social media says, emphatically, yes.

When we see something unacceptable, we need to report it. Otherwise we just let it happen and then it happens more and more often.

She’s right. I’ll try to do better.

**

Ugh: Jimmy and Johnny were sitting on the front porch when a large flat bed hauling hundreds of rolls of sod went by.

“I’m gonna do that when I win the lottery,” said Jimmy.

“Do what?” asked Johnny.

“Send my grass out to be mowed.”

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