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Fire Is Life
by Richard Cordova (January 2020)

I have had a job since I was nine years old. While going through life, I have put out more than a dozen fires in work camps and even in the motor home I lived in.


We all know how important and dangerous fires can be. Fire departments have been with us for a long time.


From the beginning of time, we have also known it is a natural resource for heating, cooking, and bathing. We are all aware of the fire restrictions - green, yellow, and red. Having a fire to stay warm has been a big thing in my street life – it has kept me alive. At times these restrictions have cost me police contact, sometimes tickets, but never marshmallows and hot chocolate.


I recall one excruciating winter evening when I found myself at Dorchester Park. It was abandoned. The wind and freezing cold temps made it dangerous: not a person in sight. Then, suddenly, I saw a pair of jeans to my left, so I got my lighter out. Because of the wind, it took a while, but it finally lit.


In the flickering light, I saw someone walking toward me. It was an old friend. We talk. He tells me people I know are under the Nevada bridge and they have a fire going.


Thank God! 


So, I’m there, quick!


When I get there, there are at least a dozen people all circling the fire closely. People are coming and going gathering wood for the fire.


That fire saved a lot of people who had nowhere to warm up that night. Many would have suffered from frostbite or maybe even died.


Around eight that morning, the police show up. Eight of us were there; eight tickets were issued.


One friend said I’ll take the ticket and keep my fingers and toes.


What would anyone else have done to stay warm and survive? 


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