Too Close for Comfort

This afternoon was rather adventurous. Today was a day that I have been both expecting and dreading — the day they burned the bush around our house.

We were enjoying a quiet afternoon. Sammy had just gone out to talk with someone in the community. Caleb was fast asleep. I was  working on my computer. And Keturah was sitting next to me, enjoying her chocolate banana snack.

I heard the crackling of a fire in the distance so I stepped outside to take a look. I could see that there were some people burning the brush down in the valley. It was a safe distance away, but it WAS on THIS side of the river, so I made a mental note to check on it again a little later to see which direction the fire would be going.

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I went back inside and continued working a few minutes longer. Then, all of a sudden, I heard a huge gust of wind and the sound of the fire suddenly grew much louder. So I went back outside to look and, much to my dismay, the fire was creeping up the side of our hill at a rather quick pace heading right towards our house.

I knew there were people watching the fire, so I wasn’t too alarmed. But since the house we are staying in only has one door (and that door was the facing the direction where the fire was coming from) I didn’t feel comfortable about staying inside while there was a fire raging so close to the house.

The wind was picking up quite a bit at this point and the fire was approaching rather quickly, so I got Keturah down out of her high chair and went fetch Caleb off the bed. On the way out the door I grabbed my purse, my cell phone, and our shoes. I took the kids around to the back of the house and sat them down on the cement slab and proceeded to put Keturah’s shoes and socks on.

That done, we circled back around the house to see how the fire was progressing. It was right around this time that two men came running up the hill carrying branches that they were using to fight back the fire to keep in under control.

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They were shouting more than usual and it didn’t take much to realize that the fire was not completely under their control. They seemed a little frantic and began calling others to come and help them.

People came from every direction to see what was going on. Some people were a bit upset at the men who had started the fire, lecturing them about how they’re not supposed to burn the bush during the “heat of the day” and how they really shouldn’t have done it on such a windy day.

But what’s done is done, so everyone pitched in to try and correct the situation.

They decided that the best way to control the fire would be to create a cross fire (which required starting a second fire). They asked me if I had any matches, so I ran inside quick to fetch the box of matches. How thankful I was that we had just purchased matches that morning as if we had had a premonition that we would be needing them.

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The cross fire helped a great deal in directing the fire away from our house, but then, quite unexpectedly there was another gust of wind and the fire began spreading pretty quickly again.

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We heard someone from a distance calling out and warning the men that the fire was getting too close to the road (and too close to the power lines!) so they set a young boy in charge of watching the fire by our house (which was pretty much under control by this point) and everyone else ran up the road to see if they could fight back the fire before it did any damage to the power lines.

I didn’t bother going along with the group, I wanted to stick closer to home and make sure the fire didn’t get out of hand again.

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I could hear a lot of commotion, but couldn’t really tell what was going on. Then, from across the valley (towards the hospital) I heard new shouts ringing out, a frantic call for people to hurry and fetch some water. I looked over in the direction of the voices and could see several people running to cut down branches to beat the fire while others were rushing to fetch buckets of water. That’s when I noticed that the fire from the valley was making a direct path up the other side of the hill and heading straight towards the generator shed.

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I don’t know how much fuel is stored in the generator shed but it was enough for everyone to be genuinely concerned. For the second time that afternoon I took the kids around behind the house as a safety precaution, and just peered out myself to see what would happen. I watched the group of people throwing water on the fire and beating it back with branches they had cut.

The fire came within 10 feet of the generator shed, but they were able to stop it in time.

The power lines were not as fortunate, though, so the power was out for a while this evening while the power lines were being repaired.

Well, that was our “big adventure” for today. It wasn’t as bad as I had feared, but with the strong winds we had this afternoon the fire did get a little too close for comfort. But, all’s well that ends well.

Once the fire started to die down, a bunch of kids came by with branches to snuff out the embers and small flames that still remained from the fire. They seemed to have a lot of fun chasing after the little fires and beating them with their branches.

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And that was the end of our excitement for the day. Except for a few moments of “frantic” and a couple times of feeling “concerned”, it was actually rather fun to observe all the activity.

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Here’s a cute picture of Keturah during all the activity. She was so chilled about it all and didn’t seem concerned in the least. I think her only real annoyance was being interrupted right in the middle of eating her chocolate banana snack (thus the chocolate all over her face 🙂

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