Matthew Jelalian 01

Matthew Jelalian poses for a portrait in the Daily Herald studio on Friday, March 6, 2015. SAMMY JO HESTER, Daily Herald

I’ve been working some strange hours recently.

With all the efforts we’ve been putting into selling our home, I find myself heading to the office in the evening and working until early in the morning so I can have more time to do house stuff during the day.

One day this week, I left the office around 3 a.m. Before I left for work, I noticed the smell of smoke in the air, but I didn’t think too much of it. I hadn’t been on social media that much, so when I arrived at the Center Street exist, I was kind of taken aback by the glow of the Alaska Fire that was burning on the Provo mountainside.

It was as if I had the Ring and Mordor was in sight. Luckily I was in a Mazda, and not on foot like Frodo was.

As the local press continues to report on the Alaska Fire, there are some things that I’ve found interesting.

First, although the investigation is ongoing, officials from the U.S. Forest Service assume that the fire was manmade. As far as I can tell, that could include purposefully starting the fire, or it could mean doing something stupid and accidentally setting off a fire. Either way, it’s not great news.

Second, firefighters had to temporarily pull aerial resources from the fight because of drones that were getting in their way.

The fire is burning a chunk of land that’s roughly 400 acres in size and only 35% contained as of writing this article, and they’re fighting it with one hand tied behind their back because of some ding-dongs who want to get the perfect shoot for Twitter.

Fortunately, the recent rainfall has helped fight the fire somewhat. But this is akin to rubberneckers on the freeway who are blocking an ambulance from reaching a crash site.

At least, when it comes to the Alaska Fire, chances are still good that nobody is going to have to evacuate their houses.

Nonetheless, it kind of irks me that somebody likely caused the fire to start and that others are more concerned about getting a good shot of the fire than they are about firefighters being able to put it out.

There are fires every year in Utah. It should be painfully obvious to anyone what can and can’t start a fire. If anything, fire prevention techniques should probably be taught to kids in elementary school here.

In addition, every year, I see stories about drones and firefighting and how the former screws up efforts by the latter. Drones are a newer technology, but they’re not so new that it should come as a surprise to anyone that they shouldn’t fly them over a local emergency.

I’ve often praised my fellow Utahns for doing the right thing and helping out where they’re most needed, but this isn’t one of those instances.

Can we all just all agree to curb certain risky behaviors when we’re up on a mountain? There are just some things we should always do. We should always put our shopping carts in the corral when we’re done, we should look for pedestrians when making a turn in our cars, and we shouldn’t do anything that might start a fire during the hottest part of the year.

This is all really simple stuff.

And while we’re at it, let’s make another agreement that our individual curiosities are not more important than the need to deal with an emergency.

Another thing I hope we can agree on is that our curiosity isn’t more important than the need to solve a problem. That should be true whether we’re talking about a mountain fire, a freeway crash or a police officer visiting the neighborhood. Unless someone is up to no good, just stay out of the way. Nobody likes a gawker.

Hopefully, the Alaska Fire will be contained soon, and hopefully, the people who live up that way will continue to be OK.

But shame on whoever started the fire and shame on those who have hampered the efforts of the people who are trying to put it out. We can do a lot better than that, or at least we should be able to do a lot better than that.

So, let’s all try to do a little better at not intentionally or unintentionally making problems worse for others. Whether we’re talking about mountain fires, conversations we have with others or not looking where we’re going, we can all do a little better at not making life worse for others.

Hopefully, this fire will serve as yet another example why we should think before we act. Hopefully, it’ll teach at least one person a lesson.