First of All, I’m Fine

Yesterday was a strange day here in Heaven. Around noon I heard every fire engine in the proximate area roaring down my street. “Shit,” I thought. Some people would think, “Fire,” but… About an hour later the power was out and the water was turned off. My “fire brain” was on hyper alert, but I never said the word “Fire” to myself. Too scary. Then the cell towers were off. No updates on what was going on. That got, for me, very scary.

I remembered October 27, 2003, when my dogs and I were evacuated to a park in Pine Valley, CA because of a massive wildfire. That I spent a lot of time plopping quarters into a pay phone by the drive-in (ice cream, not movies) contacting friends to tell them I was OK and giving quarters to my friends any anyone else around there so they could do the same. I kept quarters in my car for parking meters, car washes, etc. back then.

The water came back on. The UPS guy came by and we agreed it was a very very very strange day. Everything seemed distorted and kind of unreal.

I took off in Bella to see if I could find “bars.” The traffic lights were out except one (???). Out by the Refuge it was business as usual for the hawks and sheep and horses and cattle. I needed to see that. Animals generally have a better clue to what’s going on that humans do.

I turned around and that’s when I saw the water-dropping-fire-fighting helicopter over my town. Because the wind was blowing away from my house, I hadn’t smelled fire or see smoke. That helicopter told me everything.

Damn.

It’s desperately dry down here, the wind has been blowing like a MOFO and fires are easy to start. Colorado Bureau of Investigation is investigating the cause of the fire. It could have been anything. 17 acres burned, 30 homes are still evacuated out of 100. The firefighters did an amazing job.

This year people have been working hard to diminish fuel. I watched a guy mowing the field near his house — that’s usually grown over with brush — mowing his field with a push mower. Too small for a tractor, but too dangerous to leave alone. Sparks from trucks, cigarettes tossed out of windows, all kinds of thing. In Descanso I remember a grass fire started from a guy’s weed-eater and so, in high fire times, the word went out, “No weed eaters.” THAT fire was put out by two of my neighbors with wet gunny sacks.

Anyway, I’ve let my fire preparedness slide since I moved here. I will have to get that back together again. It might be a long summer… I mean, here it is April and I’m wearing shorts. No, you don’t have to visualize that.

You can read all about it here with videos… The news….

My house: little red line under blue marker. Fire area outlined in red. It’s about a mile. My town is small, only two miles the long way. ❤


47 thoughts on “First of All, I’m Fine

  1. I’m SO glad the wind was blowing in the opposite direction! And I’m glad you went to the refuge to see that the animals were ok! Fortunately only 17 acres, but “several structures” is not a good report! It sounds like your fire readiness preparations are a good idea — if nothing more than for peace of mind at this point! Take a day or two to settle back to your regular routine, though — and enjoy a more normal day today! Take care, and stay safe!

    • Very good advice. I feel so bad for the people who’ve lost their homes. 30 families are still evacuated which is a pretty sad statistic in a town this small. Last night I watched the live feed of the press conference of the mayor etc. It’s amazing how some people are unable to recognize the danger. There was a guy basically cursing out the police and firefighters for keeping him out of his house. I kept thinking, “Dude, you might not have a house right now. You don’t even know.”

  2. Fine is good. I don’t think anywhere is safe from fire. I’ve accepted that over time every inch of unpaved land will burn and eventually recover with more drought tolerant plants.

    “Accepting” fire doesn’t come easily because recovery is beyond my personal timeline.

  3. Glad you are fine, Martha. Please keep that fire preparedness up. There is an investigation here on a controlled burn that went awry due to the wind changing direction. Exact same location a burn went out of control two years ago. Very scary thing.

    • People around here this year — including the BLM and forest service — have been very diligent in keeping the fuel under control and that’s been very impressive. But a fire in town is another thing. Looking at the map I was surprised at the trees being fine. I guess fire finds the easiest fuel.

  4. Glad you’re okay, and that things are contained. Yes, the angry reaction of someone evacuated is bizarre on one level. Fear speaking under cover of anger. There’s been a fire in Bldr county every day this week thus far. All fortunately contained quickly. And then major high winds due in on Friday. One breath at a time, and time to recheck the go bag. Stay well and cool!

  5. This post brings back bad memories. I don’t like fires at all. I was glad we had a wet Summer. Thanks for joining in Martha 🙂 🙂

  6. So glad to hear you are ok. I couldn’t find updates last night so had troubled sleep but now I can rest assured you are ok. Keep your chin up MK.

  7. I’m glad you are OK. April seems early for a fire but the fire season here seems to start earlier now as well so I guess I shouldn’t be surprised. I know how it feels to have a fire so close. Thank goodness you were lucky, this time. Definitely update your fire plan and have your “go bag” prepared.

    • Living in the Southern California mountains I had that “get out of here” fire plan sorted out. I sort of let my guard slip. It’s summer hot here today which is the first time I remember having temperatures like that here at this point in the summer. Tomorrow they are predicting an intense and dangerous fire day with high winds, high temps and the whole deal. I am afraid you’re right that “fire season” (which didn’t even exist when I was a kid) is starting earlier and earlier. 😦

      • I’m aware that Australia and the USA have an arrangement to help each other out during our fire seasons. Firefighters from the USA have been here during especially bad bushfires bringing “Elvis” water bombing helicopters and other equipment. Aussie firefighters have been to the USA in the northern summer. Now I fear that our fire seasons are starting to overlap and in the future it may no longer be possible to help each other this way.
        Wind is the thing I fear most. We were lucky in Geeveston, a small town of less than a thousand people. We lost a couple of homes and a lot of sheds etc in 2019. A wind change could have seen it much, much worse. The fire we had here at Sisters Beach was contained early because many resources were available to fight it. Lucky again.

        • I didn’t know about that arrangement and I should have! You are totally right — lucky. My town in California was surrounded by a 300,000 acre wildfire when I lived there. The firefighters worked hard to save my town — that was part of it — but it was also luck and geography. Yesterday was luck, too. Though the part of my town that burned was bordered by open land, THAT wasn’t where the fire started and the fire didn’t cross the road to the farm and open fields. The wind and fuel kept it in a neighborhood. “My” California fire burned all the way to the ocean. I know all of us who’ve been that close are forever different from the experience. When I learned they had it contained yesterday I just sat here and cried and it wasn’t for THIS fire, it was for all of them and what people experience and feel. ❤

    • That fire in Louisville and environs was (hopefully) freaky and damaging. Crazy (I hope). Grass fires are normal until people move into the grasslands then they become tragic. :-(.

  8. Martha, thank dog you are okay. When I read that you went out to the Refuge, I got a bit nervous. I don’t like walking in dry bushland on windy days. It is pathetic of me but I can’t shake the imminent doom feeling. It could be a tricky spring/summer for you. If you have enough money for it, I highly recommend an air purifier for the house.

    • Just remember; the Refuge is a swamp ❤ But I didn't go out there for a walk. I went out of town hoping to find out what was going on. I didn't know that cell service was down all over the western US. Wednesday was a crazy crazy day here. I figured I had no cell service because the power was cut, but cell service was gone for reasons completely unrelated to the fire.

      That imminent doom feeling is the most pervasive emotion for me right now — and it's gone on for a week or more with the wind. Yesterday was the worst. The forecast promises something better for Sunday and we're ready for it. We three need OUT. ❤

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