Tuesday, September 11, 2012

When The Sun Turns Red

I love where I live.  It's beautiful, we have four distinct seasons, and did I mention I love it here?

I'm very thankful that there are almost no natural disasters that we have to worry about.  No hurricanes, no tornadoes, very few floods - and if there are they're localized, and no earthquake zones on this side of the state.

But what we do have, we have in spades.


It doesn't seem to matter whether it's a drought year or not.  All that matters is that the conditions are right that day.  The day of a major thunderstorm.

This weekend we had one.  It was spectacular.  It also started something like 80 fires in our region.  Not to mention the high winds it brought with it. 

In case you were wondering, wind and fire don't play nicely together.

So today the sky above my house is half clear blue with white puffy clouds and half orangy-gray and nasty looking.  The sun is in that southern half and so all the light has a crazy glow to it.  Kind of like sunset, but much spookier.

 This is the view from right around the corner from my house

The fire is on the western edge of town about 8 miles from us (we don't live in town anymore).  Lots of homes were threatened last night and some different ones are threatened today.  I'm thankful that it's on the edge of high desert so it's mainly a grass fire.  Still scary, but not maybe quite as scary as a forest fire.

This was taken an hour later about a mile closer

Like the one near my parent's town back in 1994.

They live up valley about 25 miles and it's more into the mountains so the hills are forest rather than sagebrush.

On a Friday morning I was up at camp working as a counselor.  We started to see smoke.  By that evening there was ash falling all around camp and we had "campfire" indoors.  At 10pm my dad called the camp and told them to get out.  NOW.  (He was a forester and had his company land involved so he was one of the first to know)

There is only one good access road to the camp and the fire was headed right towards it.  In about half an hour we had the entire camp - all 90+ staff and campers packed up and headed down the hill.  My dad met us halfway and took me home while the rest of the camp went to an emergency shelter in a local middle school.

The next morning my mom took my brother and I over to Spokane to stay with my Grandma for a few days.  While we were gone not only did the fire get very near the camp - and cut off the access road - it also came over the ridge above town.  My dad said he stood in the driveway and watched the fireball at the top.

It came all the way to the bottom of the hill at the edge of town - about 2 blocks from our house - before they were able to draw a line and hold it.

I have real respect for fire, don't get me wrong.  I know some guys who were on a fire fighting crew that some of them didn't make it out.  But I also know that fire is important.  The trees need to be thinned out to create a healthy forest.  The cones need it to get hot enough that their seeds will come out.  I won't get into it here, but the fire management we've had for the past 50 years has been horrid.  Things have to change or we'll see more really awful forest fires.

But I'd still rather live here.  I hope people aren't hurt and no homes are lost, but fire is important.  And maybe it's just because I'm used to it (we expect them every year and are mostly prepared for them), but I'd rather have these than any other natural disasters.

What kind of natural disasters are common in your area?

1 comment:

  1. You do live in a very, VERY beautiful area!


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