We have had a devastating fire season this year. The West has burned as never before. The fire in Yosemite created so much smoke in Lake Tahoe, that it was literally hard to see the mountains.
We lost 19 firefighters in Colorado. The Yosemite fire burned over 200,000 acres.
Nightline did a segment on planes that are used for fighting these fires. Did you know that they are so old they were used in the Korean War? Did you know they often crash - two last year, and one that literally lost its wings before crashing this year? The fleet has actually shrunk from 45 to just 11 planes. At one point this summer we had over 250 forest fires burning out of control.
The drought over the last ten years has created millions of acres burned, thousands of homes destroyed, and 200 dead firefighters.
A Forest Service report discussing the replacement of this aging fleet was first discussed in 2002! This is 2013 and absolutely nothing as been done.
Six air tankers were ordered the day the 19 firefighters died. None showed up. Not one. They were literally left on their own. It is unknown if they would have survived with air support, but one thing is for sure - we will never know.
I live at Lake Tahoe. Some argue that we get what we deserve if we live in the forest - after all, it's good for the forest to burn on occasion. I don't disagree. But the clarity of Lake Tahoe is seriously threatened with every fire that has run off. This lake is a national treasure. I hope the next generation and many more after that will have the pleasure of looking at its clear blue water.
So while we watch our natural resources burn, our politicians in Washington continue to debate yet another war. Estimates range in the trillions to maintain the 1,000 military bases the United States has around the world. Yet we have only 11 Korean War-era bombers equipped to fight fires in the United States.
There is something really wrong with this picture.