March 05, 2009

A Nice Little "Training Fire"

About ten this morning, M. and I left for Pueblo on a shopping trip. As we neared the bottom of our twisting driveway, I saw the department's brush truck, lights flashing, pass by on the county road. Not good.

I reversed and drove back to the house. The light on the answering machine was flashing too: There was a fire on that road--somewhere.

That road is two miles long. I laced up my fire boots, grabbed the pack with hard hat, etc., and was back in the Jeep. M. had already shifted the cooler (for chilled groceries) and other stuff out of it and into her car.

And there was the fire! I just as easily could have walked to it. Somehow we had not smelled the smoke.

Neighbor J. (that's his mailbox in the photo), who lives across the road, had made an initial attack with shovel and buckets. Then the truck arrived, and T.and R. knocked most of it down.

By the time I arrived, there was not much to do but help T. drag the hose around the clumps of willow and cottonwoods, while others stirred up hot spots with shovels.

In less than an hour we had finished, and I could go to Pueblo after all.

T., as asst. chief, had to talk to the landowner. The. Man. Had. Been. Burning. Trash. Outdoors.

And he did it on a day with the temperature in the 60s F., relative humidity about 6 percent, and a stiff breeze blowing.

He does come from a Central European nation where you never hear about forest fires, it's true.

Embers had floated down a hill from his house, wafted over the creek, and landed in the riparian area where, fortunately, the flames were confined between the creek and the road and could burn only in two directions.

R. was for calling the sheriff then and there. T. was more moderate--he took the man aside for a chat, and then told us he would call the sheriff if it happened again, adding,

"Next time we have a fund-raising drive, I'm going to knock on his door and remind him about today."

As for me, I have started learning how the brush truck works, and about the floating gasoline-powered pump that we use for refilling its tank from a creek or stock pond.


R Francis said...

Our big event of the week was a fire in the kiln of the firewood company on Sodom Road. Kiln dried firewood! Happens every five years or so I am told.
My group got to provide water supply -that is stand in the main road and wait for the tankers (2 in all) to come to us at the dam by the swimming hole. And try to control rushhour (sic) traffic.
Fun ain't it.
Wait til the training gets you - sort of takes the edge off.

Chas S. Clifton said...

I joined more out of a sense of duty than for the adrenalin rush -- not that there is anything wrong with adrenalin rushes!

But like the seasonal work my wife and I used to do for the Bureau of Land Management, which seemed romantic to some of our friends, to us it was often just "another day at the office."

And like that job, there is always new stuff to learn. Maybe I'm a novelty-junkie. When I stop learning, I get bored fast.

Andrew Oh-Willeke said...

Code of the West time?

Lots of rural counties in Western Colorado distribute a document with this title to newcomers.

The public education concept isn't a bad one. This mistake was stopped before it got out of hand, but not all mistakes are repeatable.

Common sense isn't always common sense in places where you didn't grow up, especially if you weren't a Boy Scout or something similar.