When I was a kid, one task my parents assigned me was to burn the tall grass from a ditch that paralleled one end of grass field, while they burned out the ditches at the other end, about three quarter of a mile away. The weather was calm, the skies were blue just like any other day. It was a great day for a controlled burn. I was ten, handed a pitch fork and some matches. What could go wrong?
My parents left for the far end, and I lit it up, did a few swipes with the pitch fork in the direction I wanted the fire to travel. My heart sank as I saw the fire race down the ditch line faster faster than my dog could run. There was nothing but tall dry grass between me and about 80 acres of cottonwood trees that lined our rivers. I felt the feeling of eternal condemnation and complete hopelessness as I saw the flame climb the first tree like it was nothing more than a stack of wooden matches.
My mother raced back to my side and soon my stepfather. They did what they could, and were able keep the fire from spreading, but the tree was doomed to burn for days. Since we were feeling safe we went home until night fall, then my uncle, stepdad and myself went down and shot the glowing embers from the tree, it was cool looking, we were having fun and I was feeling much better.
Our fun, was short lived however; we were informed that a state trooper was dispatched from the neighboring city about an hour away, 40 minutes if he drove like my stepdad. Apparently, the neighbor called in and told the police we had him blocked in his home, were trying to burn and shoot him out! So, we all went on an immediate camping trip to the Eagle Caps which was also great fun. I love camping. Especially now that we sleep in an RV rather than on the ground.
After about a week of camping, we returned home. The state trooper came for a visit the next time he entered the valley, and told my step dad that that all the charges from the nervous neighbor were unfounded, and those were all dropped. He did give us a $50 fine for burning without a permit.
Things probably would have gone better had he bought a permit, and had a fire truck of some sorts. In the end, I learned that fire can travel fast and is all consuming.
Today, in August of 2016, we left our normal RV park in Sunriver to spend a week in the Deschutes National Forrest. As is my normal, I was telling her how nice it would be to buy some land and setup residence here. The late summer and all the people however make me nervous and we should always have a route out in mind in the event of a fire. I told her I was nervous about the campground we were headed to as there is nothing but trees there.
In our new camp the weather has been hot, the winds gentle but steady. The perfect setup for clean air and extreme fire danger! I was wishing we were om the coast, as remembering the fire from the ranch left me a healthy respect for wildfires. When we arrived at Camp Prairie, we setup camp and it was the perfect day however.
There it was, the birthing of a monster! The good news was the USF spotter planes were already there determining the type of monster that would need to be subdued. Since the spotters were there I was sure this one would soon be contained. Athena began getting ready for some guests due in in a couple days.
We went for another look, and it appears to be getting hotter. So we decided to monitor the fires progress.
Athena sent me out for a look a couple hours later, and the whole sky was a smoke bank. Somehow the fire looked a lot closer than it did before. I figured we had better get packed and ready to roll. At least our house is mobile, but many houses are stuck to the ground, and can’t be moved. I was feeling sorry for them. As I got back to camp, the sheriff was standing there and told me were on a level one evacuation notice and to get packed up and ready to roll. I asked him if were required to evacuate how would we know. He said he would be back to let us know. Man, if I could have found another campground in some marsh to roll to I would have been there. I decided the truck stop in La Pine would be our destination, we did not have enough cash to do more than that. This has been a real hard month as far as cash flow was concerned. So here we sat waiting to see what would happen next. The fire was under ten acres. I called it a night, hoping I would wake up should the winds shift and time would be of the essence.
Overnight the fire had spread to 53 acres and was 10 percent contained. That evening the fire was 80 percent contained. This was too close for my taste, maybe those gravel lots they build homes on in Arizona are not that bad of an idea! Sure would miss the green though.
The USF (United States Forest Service) who put this fire out, are “top of the world Baby!” We also think about the sheriff deputies who risk their lives for the salvation of ours. They deserve our respect, why can’t the media show us the good things the police do. I am sure most all of responders are in the jobs, because they want to protect all society. Let’s spend more time highlighting God created all races, it is not just the black lives that matter. Let’s be level headed and solve our disputes peacefully without being derogatory.
Have a good evening and a good night…. (This fire is now forever known in the media as the Paulina Fire.) I wonder how they decide when a fire deserves an name? I got mine at birth.