Friday, December 30, 2005

grass fire  

posted by Michael Piwonka 11:25 PM
Our family get-together started out normally, with people tossing footballs, wonderful smells emanating from the kitchen, kids taking turns riding the four-wheeler, and laughter filling the air.

But the faint smell of smoke quickly changed the atmosphere, as everyone was aware of the seriousness of the drought and state-wide burn ban. A wisp of smoke, upwind of our farm, was rapidly and ominously growing in size.

Someone jumped on the four-wheeler, and sped over to the edge of our property for a closer look. The word came back quickly that there was a grass fire on the neighbor's property, and the smoke was increasing. Soon the sounds of sirens could be heard.

We were all growing nervous, and were advised by a warden that it would be a good idea to begin preparing to evacuate. We starting gathering keepsakes from the house, and loading them into the 15-or-so automobiles that had gathered for the get-together.

A total of 5 fire departments responded, from the neighboring communities of Caldwell, Somerville, Cooks Point, Deanville and Black Jack. A crop duster appeared to dump water on the fire, making 4 or 5 passes over the fire before disappearing to reload with water.

One of the fire engines reloaded with water from our pond, taking a reported 1000 gallons of water.

The fire was brought under control, but not completely eradicated, as the fire departments couldn't put out, nor push over, several burning trees. However, after bulldozing around the danger areas to create a fire break, it was deemed that the danger was passed. But embers blowing in the brisk evening breeze didn't make any of us feel too comfortable.

One of the neighbors that was hardest hit by the fire raises ostriches. Several of the birds were lost in the fire, most likely by smoke inhalation, and several more were in poor health and could possibly be lost also. We were all amazed at the size and number of eggs that were lying on the ground in and around the ostrich pens.

One of the firemen estimated the fire consumed about 60 or 70 acres, but inspection of the burned area the next morning revealed the fire probably affected fewer acres than that.

However, with the fire originating next to the highway, we all agreed with the firemen's deduction that the fire was probably started by a cigarette thrown out the window of a passing car.

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random. arbitrary. completely unnecessary. yet refreshingly therapeutic.

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