Wildfire: The United States faced enormous trauma this past spring and summer, what with an economy in free fall and the coronavirus sweeping the country.
And to make matters worse, California has been plagued by wildfires, begun weeks ago by random, deadly lightning strikes that set dry timber aflame and caused hundreds of homes to burn down.
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So far, more than 30 people have lost their lives to the fires, and 200 people are missing, having fled their homes but not located yet by family or officials.
Approximately two million acres of land and forest have been burning since the wild fires began in late spring.
Whole subdivisions are gone, as are some of the glorious old trees in several state parks, trees that had stood for centuries before this year.
It has added to a kind of pervasive, national angst and “what next?” feeling so many Americans have been expressing in news items and on social media. It is fair to say that the last six months in the U.S. have arguably been some of the most stressful in the country’s history.
But Americans are famous for their resilience, and although 2020 has thus far proven itself to be one of the most challenging periods ever, it has not defeated many of the people who’ve come up against these traumas. A big dose of ingenuity is often responsible, and it’s one of the traits Americans are most famous for, and most proud of.
There is no better example of that ingenuity this summer than Chad Little, a resident of Vacaville, California, whose home was about to fall prey to one of the many fires burning throughout the state.
His family, just like more than 115,000 other families so far in California, were packing up to evacuate when Little made a decision: he was going to stay put and see to it that their home was saved.
While that may sound like a reckless decision, it’s hard to blame him; Little’s family had lost their house to fire once already, five years ago.
This summer it has been right on the edge of completely rebuilt – until now. Flames were surrounding their property, and their neighbours, when Little made up his mind that sending his family away but staying close himself was the right thing to do.
The Little home should have been okay, as it has the safety feature of being encircled by water hoses. However, just when Little hoped they would be activated and thereby spare his house, the water was turned off.
He used the small amount of water he had in a bucket close by, but realized quickly he needed more. A lot more.
His automotive shop, which was a separate structure away from his house but on the same property, was soon on fire. Cars he had lined up nearby were quickly in flames.
It was at that moment that Little turned to his favourite brew.
He grabbed one can, struck its edge on a large nail after shaking it, and was able to control the fire even though it threatened to climb up the walls of his shop.
Little just kept going, one can of beer after another, and tamed the fire with the unlikely extinguisher. Just as Little was getting down to the last couple of cans and didn’t quite know what he would do next, he saw fire trucks and fire fighters swing into the turn onto his property.
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Who knows whether Little’s sudden, brilliant idea of using beer to retard flames would have kept the fire at bay had the firefighters not arrived? But that isn’t really relevant. What matters is that this is another example of American ingenuity proving to be a winning – if unlikely – formula for saving the day.