Letter to the Editor

Dear Editor;

The past few months our local volunteer fire departments have been criticized by some people, and, frankly, I cannot see why. I was not part of the recent election concerning a Philip fire district. My ranch lies within the Milesville Fire District. If I could have voted, I would have voted for the tax district.

There have been two major fires on my place in the last four years. This is unfortunate, but I was very fortunate to have our local volunteer fire departments there to help me. Fortunate that when the gas tank caught fire on a Philip truck that it didn't explode, which would probably have killed three friends. Fortunate that a Midland truck ran through a fence, and although it got its drive line tangled and was disabled, their actions cleared a path which allowed a Philip truck to put out the fire which had jumped Highway 34. This at least kept the fire contained on one side of the highway. Fortunate that firefighters didn't bail on me when the fire burned an old building forcing the rattlesnakes living under it to flee the flames. One even crawled over the boot of a fireman. Fortunate that a friend gathered three trucks for a last stand along a ridge to protect the cemetery where Mom, Dad and my son are buried. Their actions probably saved my parents' house, as the fire would have almost certainly burned the house if it had gotten over that ridge. Fortunate that at least 14 fire departments were here that night.

The key word is volunteer. These people don't have to do what they do. They leave their jobs, lose sleep and risk their lives to help us.

I know money is tight, but don't let us forget the service these departments provide, and all the damages they prevent.

I hope you never face the horror of watching your property burn, or the sheer terror of not knowing where your friends and loved ones are during a fire. If you ever face this, I'm sure you will thank God as I do for all the firemen, and be glad that they are always there to stand in front of the fire for you.

Thank you all.

/s/ Kelly Blair

Milesville, SD