October 25, 2012

Under the Volcano (2): A 'Critical' Mission

Steam rises from a house foundation being hosed down.
I am just back from a "critical' mission, driving around putting fliers on residents' doors reminding them to check to see if firefighters had turned off their propane tanks, that food might have spoiled because the power was off, or that we might have cut their fences.

"Smoke may still be seen over the coming weeks and months," the flier warns. Yup.

Certainly I was tempted to some fences on Tuesday evening while chasing spot fires in a cottonwood grove located on an old dairy farm. It was like a World War One battlefield — barbed wire fences everywhere in the trees, while loose pieces of wire waited to wrap around your ankles.

Yesterday — Wednesday — the fire had moved into grassland and scatted piñon-juniper country. The forecast renewed southwest wind never arrived, and with lighter winds, the aerial tankers (both fixed-wing and rotary) were on the job. It was good to see them overhead, especially when I went home to get a change of clothes, toiletries, etc. for M. and myself.
All the apparatus bays were full of tables, chairs, and people planning.
Because part of the fire was on public land, the Forest Service and BLM presence was heavy. Rather than fire-fighting, I found myself moving more folding tables and chairs from the community center to the fire house so that the "overhead" could spread out their laptop computers, maps, charts, and ample catered food.

An eager-beaver state patrolman actually pulled over my partner and me — a suspicious civilian pickup truck, loaded with tables and chairs. Must be looters!

Aside from that, we did truck and pump maintenance and ate some of the abundant food that the logistics people had procured.

The sheriff has said that power lines hitting trees in the wind (gusting over 70 mph) caused the fire. I did hear some radio chatter Wednesday evening about a "large piece of evidence" being impounded, but I do not know what it was.

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