Monday, January 16, 2017

The World is on Fire


The world is on fire. This is not referring to the election results, nor is it referring to the resulting protests of the election results. The world is actually on fire.
Several years ago I spent a week in the Linville Gorge. Yes, as mentioned in this column before, it is one of my favorite places to go. I backpacked into the gorge and around the rim on various trails in order to take in its beauty and serenity.
It may have been one of the most relaxing weeks I have ever had.
The very next week, the gorge was in the news. No, it wasn’t in the news because of my column in which I shared some of the moments while there. It was in the news because it was on fire.
I was able to share a landscape photo I had taken of Hawksbill and Table Rock mountains from a few days before showing magnificently painted leaves adorning the gorge and steep slopes down to the valley where the river flowed and compare it to a photo taken that evening in which it looked like an image that should be inserted into Dante’s Inferno.
All in all, the fire that erupted in the gorge encompassed 2,579 acres before being contained on November 13, 2013. Now, that part of the world is on fire once again.
By comparison, here are some of the numbers from a week prior to this column with a few of the fires burning: Party Rock, 7,171 acres and 45% contained; Maple Springs, 7,788 acres and 69% contained; Boteler, 9,039 acres and 77% contained; and Tellico, 13,874 acres and 91% contained. Can you understand why the smoke is reaching from the mountains all the way to coast of North Carolina?
It seems every day you hear of another fire that has erupted there. Lake Lure, Blowing Rock, basically anywhere in the Pisgah National Forest is in danger.
Cathy Anderson is a professional photographer based near Morganton, NC and has taken some fantastic landscapes of the gorge, Pisgah, and Great Smokey National Forests over the years. With the fires burning, she has gained fame in photojournalism.
Her images of fires taking away acers of pristine mountain forests have spread to various news outlets and been featured on CBS Evening News, several morning news shows, and of course, multiple local news outlets. A time-lapse of the fire burning at Party Rock captures the destruction in a hauntingly beautiful awe sensing experience.
But not only has she informed the nation of what is happening in our own backyard with her mesmerizing images, she also has collected needed items for the firefighters challenging the blazes. Her love of the land there extends past her imagery.
Lots of wildlife have lost their homes, if not their lives from the blazes. People have been evacuated and their homes destroyed as well. But from the ashes new life will grow.  Much like the mythical Phoenix, the mountains will come back stronger. We just need to pray for the safety of all those trying to limit the damage and contain the current fires so the healing can begin.

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