Blog: Lessons from the fire

Editor's note: This article is from the blog Writing About Writing.

Covering a fire — especially one that rips through populated areas as fast as the wind — is never easy.

You meet residents who are worried about losing their homes. You meet families who are scrambling to get out of harm's way. You meet the couple trying to rescue their wheelchair-bound neighbor. You meet the firefighters who are heading into the smoke, toward the flames taunting them on the hills.

And throughout the city — as the smoke darkens the sky — the anxiety grows.

You go back to the office; you write the newspaper stories, the Web updates; but, meanwhile, you wonder how those residents, those families, those firefighters are faring.

Every person in Ashland has their own story about the fire. Some saw the flames erupting on the hillsides or the towers of smoke in the air. Some felt the heat of the fire or splashes from the water-dropping helicopters. Some evacuated, and nearly all know someone who did.

Like the soot-stained ground, the stories about the fire remain. From them, we patch together a narrative about what it means to survive a natural disaster — and where we should go from here. We learn, even if just for a day, that houses, possessions, animals and people can be lost — burned — in an instant. We learn to reprioritize.

What have you learned from the fire?

E-mail your comments to reporter Hannah Guzik at

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