This water don't run: Glendale bottler Renegade of America has been selling its God Bless America water since soon after September 11. One note to consumers: Renegade officials concede it's really just City of Glendale tap water purified through reverse osmosis. But The Spike loves the capitalist spirit that's made this country great.
Todd H. Lillard

Smoke Gets in Their Eyes

The Spike has been following with great interest all the media rubbernecking at the Rodeo-Chedeski fire. While The Arizona Republic is covering one of the biggest natural disasters in Arizona history like it's a plane crash — using half of its considerable staff to pump out relatively meaningless profiles of people sitting on cots in the Show Low gymnasium — the national media has at least provided The Spike with some news you can use.

The Spike was shocked and saddened to learn only last week that Smokey the Bear, an icon of The Spike's grade-school years, is no more. It seems the best bureaucratic minds of the U.S. Forest Service decided (apparently years ago) that the furry mascot with the big hat ought to be just Smokey (No Middle Name) Bear.

The Spike may be the last to learn this factoid. Apparently, the Forest Service stripped the earnest ursine of his rightful title simply because, as the Forest Service has lectured us in ads about the bear's new moniker, you wouldn't say "Santa the Claus" or "Easter the Bunny." "The" Spike is outraged at this blatant discrimination.

The Spike's journalistic brethren warn that The Spike will feel the wrath of the USFS if "the only American hero with his own ZIP code!" is misidentified, as apparently they have. Scary. You'd think the Forest Service would have better things to do than harass reporters. (The words to the official song, by the way, are still the same: "Smokey the Bear, Smokey the Bear, prowlin' and a growlin' and a sniffin' the air" blah blah blah, a tune The Spike knew well as a child and now can't get out of its pointy little head.)

Still, The Spike is pleased to see that people still care about Smokey the Bear (hum, hum, hum) and still take his famous prevention message to heart. Oops again. It used to be: "Only You Can Prevent Forest Fires." Now: "Only You Can Prevent Wildfires."

In this case, well-intentioned yet crazy people of this country are trying their best to help firefighters put out this massive wildfire.

And all via e-mail.

Take Indru Primlani, for example. The Renton, Washington, resident e-mailed The Spike directly (as well as the Phoenix Fire Department) with this helpful suggestion, based on a "process" he has developed:

"Dry ice can be delivered by artillery as projectiles into the fire area with computer-controlled accuracy. The dry ice sublimates with cooling affect [sic] to smother the flames."

Apparently, carbon dioxide that's released when the ice shatters to smithereens "excludes oxygen with a protective gas envelope."

The Spike wondered where Primlani expects to get enough ice to stop a wall of flames that's many miles long, hundreds of feet tall and thousands of degrees. And rapidly moving.

Bob Khan, the assistant Phoenix fire chief (Note to Jim Paxson: You may be charming, but you're no Bob Khan), says whether something make sense or not doesn't stop people from firing off suggestions when big fires hit.

The Phoenix Fire Department, in fact, has gotten plenty of e-mails to its Web site from folks who think they know how to stop the half-million-acre Rodeo-Chedeski fire. Of course, the Phoenix department has little to do with the far-flung fire. Khan says some local firefighters lent a hand in Show Low for a few days, standing by to help with any structure fires that may have broken out. But that was about it.

Still, one obvious Smokey the Bear disciple penned this missive:

"Hello. I have seen some of the news reports of the fire in Show Low, Arizona. I'm so sorry for you all. I don't know what all you are using, but I saw on TV last year sometime that the material that the Disposable Diapers are made out of was tested on a shed, then fire was applied and the shed did not burn. Are you guys using that Disposable Diaper material to cover the homes that are in the path of the fire? If not, is there a way you can get the Disposable Diaper Companies to truck it in to you guys?"

Okey doke.

And this from the Heartland — Waukegan, Illinois:

"This is probably a real stupid idea, but I don't know who to ask. Why couldn't the U.S. Air Force drop a bunch of those bunker buster bombs in front of the wildfire in order to create some huge craters between the fires and towns? Thanks."

The Spike wonders why the Air Force doesn't just cluster bomb Show Low while they're at it. Maybe that would stop the fire.

One writer, who claimed to be a "biologist and citizen concerned about this country" suggested dropping all the equipment possible that could be used to stop a fire — and The Spike is presuming here that he means bulldozers and the like — into the center of the fire. The machines would be driven by "robot drivers" who would push sand and dirt over the flames.

But The Spike's favorite suggestion is this one from — appropriately, in The Spike's opinion — a Yahoo customer:

"Get some of those ICE MAKER MACHINES and SNOW MAKERS and load them up in the transports. What you do next is you take the ice and you put it in the snow machine and you shoot out crushed ice.

"What also can be done is to just drop loads of blocks of ice onto and near the flames. By the time it gets to the ground, it will be melted at least halfway and come crashing to the ground.

"At that time, the water from the ice will begin to build up. Thereby creating pubbles [The Spike is not making this up] of water onto the bottom of the flames.

"Or even on the dirt soaking the water so the flames won't be so bad.

"Planes can fly through clouds in the sky. They have gone through thunderstorms. They surely can get above the flames 200 feet or so above and start shooting out ice.

"Also get a couple of trucks rigged with power outlets and hook up snow machines to them and surround the flames, then shoot."

Khan, who may be chief someday, wouldn't comment on individual stupidity. "Well, you never know when somebody is going to come up with a good idea. I learned a long time ago you should listen to anything anybody has to say about how to put out a fire."

Tell that to Smokey the Bear.

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