Monday, June 16, 2008

Fire strikes -- and so do looters

The Humboldt Fire started near Chico, where Tony works, last Wednesday and many of his company's employees had to evacuate their homes near Paradise.

It has been devastating to watch the news, see the map, and read the comments by worried friends and family. Our home is 50 miles to the north and west, so we were not threatened by this one. But everyone who lives in California fears wildfires, as well they should.

There were 74 homes destroyed by this fire; cause at this point unknown. Thousands of firefighters from throughout California assisted the battle to contain it. Hundreds of people were evacuated and sheltered and fed by volunteers and good people.

And last night on the news there was this report about looters. Today, Tony discovered that one of his colleagues was a victim, and that his insurance company only covers $5K caused by theft. The guy -- a young man with a family -- did not lose his home to fire, but lost its contents to thieves who took advantage of his absence and stole everything: tools, toys -- everything.

How do people lose ethics? Did they never have them in the first place? What corrupts a person, causes them to compound a terrible event into an even more incomprehensible act?

Tony's colleague did not realize that others had also been looted, so he perhaps can find some company with his misery, and perhaps they all can work towards a solution, towards regaining some of the stolen merchandise.

I'm 60 years old. And I don't think I'm particularly naive. But this just blows me away -- sort of like the guy I wrote about a few days ago baffles me with his nastiness and mean spirit -- only these thieves are even lower than that on the ethics and decency scale. They kicked people when they were down, walked away and left them gasping. And didn't look back. That is the true tragedy in this.

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