For the first time in nearly five weeks, there is not a story about the Chetco Bar Fire on the Pilot’s front page. The fire is still burning, but it’s on its last legs.

Whew.

It’s been a long five weeks for everybody in our community — from the fire crews to the evacuees to the residents who cowered under thick smoke for weeks, fearing the worst.

Our community fared much better than those in other cities where more homes and lives were lost to fire. We were extremely fortunate and are extremely grateful to everybody who responded to the fire and kept us safe.

Today, the sun is shining and the sky is blue. It’s time to celebrate, but save some time to become better prepared for the next potential disaster.

If there’s anything we learned from the Chetco Bar Fire, it’s to be ready at a moment’s notice. Because of where we live – with the potential for fire, floods, earthquakes, tsunami and winter storms — we should always be on Level 1 (be ready) evacuation notice.

Keep those escape plans handy and those 72-hour go bags ready and waiting by the doors or in your vehicles.

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