One of the things us "mountain dwellers" have to deal with here in paradise is the threat of wild fires. They can come at us from many directions, as well as causes, here in the woods. Sometimes it's a careless human being, like an un attended campfire or a spark from a chain saw or dirt bike. Sometimes it's Mother Nature, herself, that's the cause - from a lightning strike during a thunderstorm, for instance.
No matter what the cause, it's a pretty scary scenario, for sure! We here in Big Bear live with it every day of every year from Spring through the first snow fall. We are very fortunate that we have the fire fighting resources that we do have, responding at a moment's notice from the first wisp of smoke seen either up close or in the distance.
There are watch tower's like Butler's Peak on the far west end of our valley that looks out over Big Bear Valley - as well as towards the Lake Arrowhead and Crestline areas. This lookout is manned by volunteers that scan the horizon looking for smoke or other signs of fire throughout the fire season. There are also concerned citizens of the the valley that will report even smoke they see from someone's barbeque or fireplace that looks out of place. The various fire departments in our valley will always check out every report, even if it only turns out to be chimney smoke or barbeque smoke. It's always better to be safe than sorry!
The United States Forestry Service (USFS) has their own fire personnel and equipment, as well as the state of California (Cal Fire). Often times all agencies will work in conjunction to put out a fire, with other fire departments throughout the state sending their own engines and volunteers to help with the fight. Not to forget to mention the water dropping helicopters and fixed wing air craft that help - including the DC-10 VLAT (Very Large Air Tanker).
We all truly appreciate the efforts given by all when it comes to putting out fires in our neck of the woods. This is only a very small bit of information regarding these heros' and the work that they do, giving unselfishly of their time and safety to come and keep our mountains safe. Without their help, our paradise would probably not be so much of one.