Friday, October 19, 2007

Ignorance Is Bliss

It is amazing how something big can be happening and a person can walk around without any idea of just what is going on. At 1:30 yesterday afternoon the wind was blowing hard, again. That wind blew a tree over just northeast of town. That falling tree landed on a power line causing it to break. That sparking line set some grass on fire. By the time anyone noticed it the wind had blown the fire into something large enough to quickly burn the field of the farmer who lives next to where it started. Three fire crews from three other towns were called in and another three crews from another three towns put on stand-by. By the time the fire was brought under control seven hours later it had cut a swath eight miles long, and two miles wide at some points, across the prairie. It also jumped two highways and produced flames that shot up to 13 feet high.

Now, I heard nothing about this fire until 6:30 last night when it was pretty much all over. I also learned that if the wind had been blowing toward the southwest instead of the southeast this fire would have headed straight for town. And if the wind had shifted at any point during the fire it would have turned toward town. I talked to one of our volunteer firefighters and asked him how you fight a fire like that. He told me that they put graders and discers on either side of the fire creating fire lines that angled toward each other in an upside down v-shape forcing the fire to turn in on itself. He also said the last thing you want to do is try to fight the fire from the front. These fires move so fast you could be surround within seconds. Our guys and the other fire crews did a great job.

Today I went out and took a few photos of the burn areas. Although they don't really show you how large this fire was or how far and wide it traveled, I thought they would give you some idea of what the fire did.

One section of the fire reaches the highway. This fire tried to cross the highway at four points but only got across at one. Firefighters quickly put that burn out.

Showing how the winds swirled the flames around leaving unburned areas inside burned sections.

The fire started over at the upper right edge of this photo and then spread across to the left and the highway.

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