Well, that's not exactly true. I care, as a human being. I don't want people to lose their mementos, heirlooms, clothes, furniture, pets, or family in a fire. But I also don't want one of my firefighters hurt or killed trying to protect your house from a wildfire because you haven't done your part.
Structural firefighters, as in your municipal fire department or local volunteer fire company, come to your burning house and try to put it out. Wildland firefighters aren't trained to fight structural fires. We are trained to keep the forest, brush, or grass fire from getting to your house and setting it on fire. We don't carry oxygen and are forbidden from entering a burning building. We let our very capable brothers and sisters dressed in turnout gear and tanks do that. We carry shovels and axes, chainsaws and rakes. We parachute into remote mountainous forests (well, I don't. why jump out of a perfectly good airplane? but I have friends and colleagues who do), rappel from helicopters, hike miles into the wilderness, and also fight the fires in the wildland urban interface (WUI).
From Wikipedia -- Wildland Urban Interface: the zone of transition between unoccupied land and human development.
So, if your house is near or adjacent to forest, grass, or brush that can support a wildfire, you live in the WUI. Hopefully you already know this if this is you. If so, what are you doing about it? Are you keeping your firewood away from the house? Are you keeping the dead leaves and needles from your roof and gutters? Are you using native or fire resistant plants in your landscape? Have you cleared away the brush and shrubs from against and near your house? Instead of dry or dead grass around your house do you have rocks and/or a well-watered lawn?
And for Pete's sake, please don't tell me you have a wooden shake roof!
Go here to learn how to protect your house from wildfire: http://www.firewise.org/Information/Who-is-this-for/Homeowners.aspx
Because if you're not doing the above, I will not be sending one of my firefighters to save your house. First, it's likely a lost cause. Second, if you're not doing your part, why, frankly, should we put ourselves at even more risk? My job is dangerous enough as it is. How would you feel if one of my firefighters or I died trying to protect your home? Would it be worth it to you? Is it okay because it's our job? I know people to whom this has happened and I'm pretty sure they would tell you they are struggling to live with that. That their stuff was not worth someone's life.
Will this be your house?
Or will this be?
I feel bad when people lose their homes and belongings. It has made me cry to see homes burn down. But, not to be flippant, that is what insurance is for. Make sure yours is paid up. Because you may do all the above, and my firefighters may fight their asses off to save your house, and it still might burn down. You choose to live in the WUI, and that is the trade-off for living with plants and animals and trees and nature. As Ed Helms once said on the Daily Show, "...fire is a hungry, hungry Bitch!"
Fire season is already upon us in some parts of the country. And for others it's not far away. Do the best you can to put the odds in your favor.
Photo credits: Top -- Robert Gauthier/LA times; Middle -- John Prendergast; Bottom -- LM Otero/AP