It started as a typical evening, John and I were just hanging out, watching a movie. About 9 p.m. John sniffed the air and asked, “Do you smell smoke?” We stepped outside and saw, in the late dusky sky, a haze of white smoke hanging over the hill just in front of us. A fire way out here with all the dry grass and brush is NOT a thing to be taken lightly, and although we could already hear fire radios in the distance, we jumped in the car and headed down the private road toward the main road to see what was going on.
We didn’t have far to drive. We drove less than 1000 feet in fact, around a bend and WHOA!!! There must have been about twenty small, independent fires burning in the grass on the hillside and in a small pasture (with old walnut trees), right next to the old wooden barn! There were also about 10 small fire trucks there already, THANK GOD. (We must have been upwind of the fires to not have smelled it until we did – although luckily there also wasn’t much wind!)
It was a little scary at first, although the situation did seem to be well in hand already. We watched all the activity for a while, turning on our flashlights when trucks came by so they knew we were there, then saw a few neighbors – their story is that his son came running into the house saying, “There’s a fire!” They didn’t see anything in their immediate vicinity and so jumped in their cars and started towards the smoke. (They are our closest neighbors – a few miles away. They were downwind.) When we first arrived, the rancher was trying to round up a few of the cows that were in the pasture with the fires, the cows were rather freaked out, but they managed to move them out of the way (after one jumped over a barbed wire fence, getting temporarily caught in the top part – poor thing – she’ll be fine though.)
I don’t know who called the fire department, but apparently, it was all coordinated well by the universe. See, the firewatch station way out here in the Antelope Valley had just recently had their funding cut, and so it’s only manned during the day. (Brilliant, I’ll make sure we only have brush fires during daylight hours, okay?) Apparently, the firefighters were on their way out of the valley, driving up our main road, when they got the call, so they were on top of it in no time. As far as we know, they’re still not sure what caused all the fires, although the electric company had been in the area earlier today, and there may have been some lines that sparked or SOMETHING – maybe we’ll find out tomorrow. I mean, it wasn’t just one large fire or a line or anything, the fires were just scattered everywhere.
Anyway, as the last of the light finally faded, 3 or 4 more fire trucks arrived, a few more neighbors arrive (including our landlord, who we tried to call when we first discovered the fires, but his line was busy – we were sure he was already being informed anyway) as well, and a caterpillar with a blade on the front. We watched as the firefighters continued to water and shovel at the fires, and the flames gradually started disappearing. (The firefighters had dug firelines when they first got there.) They were doing a very thorough job of making sure the fires were really out. At that point we were getting tired and so wandered back to our house. We’re finally calming down now – quite the excitement to say the least. I’m still amazed that it took us so long to discover this was going on, but I’m kinda glad it did. Had WE discovered the fires, I would have certainly called 911, and then our landlord, but then we probably would have piled everything of value into our cars and left the vicinity. That would have been much more freaky. ANYWAY, I’m going to watch the rest of the movie right now (a blast from the past – Ghostbusters – heh) and continue calming down.
Oh, and at one point during all of this I whispered to John, “Tom‘s going to be mad he missed this – he always says he keeps missing all the fun stuff.” *grin*