So we lit a rather large bonfire. We had a hard rain the day prior so I figured it was ok and that only some of it would really burn since they were piles all kinda separated from each other and not too close to the trees. Surely it would catch, burn for 20-30 minutes in one place, then sputter out as we’ve normally had done. We never had multiple piles actually catch when they were dry at one time, even when we’ve wanted them to. We had it going pretty good…
And then the flames started to grow. The entire pile caught fire. The flames got higher and hotter, and rose to about 40 feet in the air to lick the tops of the trees. We figured people could see this for miles and did NOT want the fire department out here. We had 2 50 gallon drums of water prepared as a just-in-case and started trying to douse the flames with buckets…but the fire just laughed at our efforts. One of the trees caught fire at a top-most branch…and that fire crawled down the length of the tree. A second tree was smouldering and ready to burst into flame just from the heat, and a third caught fire along the base! We were running out of water now, so I ran across an acreage to start pumping from the ground well spigot. My husband rushed to grab a huge cattle trough we have, hauled the massive thing into the back of his truck, and started filling it from the main house with a hose.
Cars started to drive by to see what was going on, which is pretty obvious why they were there since we live out in the sticks a ways, but you could see this from the main roads. I was barking orders for my son to stay away from the blaze and I was quickly running out of stamina running around trying to run damage control. I heard sirens blazing in the distance but luckily they died down, but by now we were debating calling the fire department and taking our penalty. I am sure we would have gotten a major fine for this. My husband booked it across our land with the pool in the back of his truck, so we got to work on the trees as best we could. After about an hour we did manage to get the blaze to a manageable point:
The tree on the right had several large limbs break and fall into the fire but the other two trees I think we saved. In the end the entire fire engulfed the rough size of a small house footprint, but we did get it under control. I was spent. My husband was spent. The neighbors who had watched the whole event once the fire rose up to crazy heights started their own huge bonfire, and right next to trees on their land also. I was like…seriously? But after about 45 minutes theirs died down. We had some chairs and were sitting around recovering when we heard siren again. The lights we could see coming from the main road…and they headed our way. But by now out fire was dying out, so I was hoping it wasn’t going to a neighbor’s house we knew was having medical issues. Nope…they kept coming down our way. It takes a little while for them to get from the main roads all the way out to us so we took a deep breath and were hoping for the best.
The first responders came to us and asked if we called the fire department. Of course we didn’t, so then after seeing the after effects of our fire asked if we were doing a controlled burn. People out here quite frequently set their land on fire in the spring to spark fresh new growth. We told them that our brush fire had gotten a little out of hand but that it was all under control now. So then they went over to the neighbors house and asked them the same, since they had some fire left. They said they had missed the real show by about an hour!
So that makes me worry now…had we called, would it really have taken them an hour to respond?! It’s a good thing we have our own set-ups for…events…when things happen out or the norm. Always good to have back-up just-in-case plans because you just never know.
The 3 trucks drove away and we did not get a fine, and we all have learned not to create large brush piles too close together again.