wildfirefighterThis month’s “What Were They Thinking” award sends the Phillips Law Firm to Oregon.  If you recall, these monthly awards are handed out to citizens that recklessly put other people’s lives and property in danger.  The award is given in the attempt to condone, and hopefully deter, similar reckless behavior.

The State of Washington has seen pure devastation this summer as a result of savage wildfires.  This is why this month’s award is handed out with nothing less than extreme confusion and displeasure.  We at the Phillips Law Firm have to ask the simple question…

Ms. Sadie Renee Johnson, What Were You Thinking!?

Sadie Renee Johnson, 23, recently confessed to starting a 51,000-acre wildfire in Oregon.  Her justification for igniting the blaze?  She wanted to help out her “bored firefighter friends.”

Ms. Johnson pleaded guilty in federal court in May to starting what became known as “the Sunnyside Turnoff Fire.”  The fire forced the evacuation of dozens of homes and resulted in damage to over 50,000-acres of property.  While the fire took only nine days to contain, it was not officially declared “extinguished” for almost two months.

Two days after she started the blaze, Ms. Johnson posted on Facebook: “Like my fire?”  Although she pled guilty in May, Ms. Johnson was sentenced early last month.

She was sentenced to 18 months in prison by US District Judge Marco Hernandez. She will also perform 200 hours of community service, as well as taking part in a six-month drug and alcohol treatment course. This was significantly less than the expected 5 years that was reported prior to her sentencing.

Think Before You Act

We often do things in a pure reactionary manner.  While driving a vehicle, for example, we may quickly swerve our car in order to avoid another motorist that fails to stop at a stop sign.  This action is taken with little or no thought.  Instincts replace reflections on the outcomes, impacts or possible results of a given act.

Typically, however, we have the time to reflect on our actions before taking them.  We have the time to question whether or not an act is safe.  We have the ability to consider whether an act is proper, pure, justified and/or legal.  Nevertheless, many of us fail to engage in this process of questioning and consideration.  In short, we don’t truly think before we act.

Ms. Johnson’s conduct helps reinforce this idea.  Yes, maybe her friends truly were bored.  But, and of course this is just a guess, maybe she would have acted differently if she thought about the safety and righteousness within igniting a wildfire that torched over 50,000-acres.

A simple mere thought never suffices though.  Thinking before you act involves much more than a quick consideration of an act’s goal.  Thinking before an action requires serious contemplation and a mature understanding of the world in which we live.

It’s obvious that Ms. Johnson did not engage in this type of thought process before her actions.  For her lack of thinking, we have to ask again…”what were you thinking!?”  Wildfires are never a joke.  In the wake of the Carlton Complex, we know this all too well.

The Phillips Law Firm understands that, unfortunately, many act without thinking about that act’s repercussions.  We also understand that these actions can easily cause injury and injustice.  This is one of the reasons we stand so entirely committed towards assisting those that have been harmed as a result of ill thought acts.

This is also one of the reasons we seek justice.  Of course, we seek justice for you.  But in doing so, we also seek to promote a better justice for us all.  This sense of betterment includes making people truly think before they act.