Wildfire

I knew there were fires to the north of us but they were hours away. I knew my friends, neighbors, and coworkers were holding down the fort at home while their husbands took time off work and drove up north in the middle of the night with livestock trailers and bottles of water with the mind to help those being told to evacuate load their livestock. So much money goes into those horses and cattle. They’re like walking investments. They’re the farmer/rancher’s savings account. Not to mention, for many they’re also part of the family. I know many who would rather die trying to rescue their herd than live and leave them behind. So, when these people heard the word “evacuate” they hitched trailers to their trucks and drove up north to rescue complete strangers’ herds, cuz that’s what Texans do. All animals that would load were loaded and those who wouldn’t budge were left with all the gates open. The fires up north were fueled by high winds and dryer than dry conditions. There were no signs of the blaze being contained at that point and later i would learn the particular fire i was hearing about devoured over 1000 acres.

i was at work when i heard someone say that during their break they were watching video footage of the fire half way between comfort and center point. A bottomless pit opened in my stomach, chills shot through my body, tingles up my spine, and the hairs on my arms stood on end. I asked, “What did you say?” She repeated herself, “i was just saying on my break i was watching a video of the fire between comfort and center point.” I heard the words but i for some reason needed confirmation that i heard what i was hearing, that i hadn’t imagined the problem, that this moment was real and not dreamt or a misunderstanding. My homestead was in Center point. Cindy’s homestead was in comfort. It was a twenty minute drive between both towns, so if the fire was halfway between center point and comfort, it was at best ten minutes away from each of our homesteads. If it was traveling towards Center Point i could get in the car right at that moment and still not beat it home. If it was traveling towards Comfort i could get in the car right now and still not get there before it reached Cindy. I asked stupidly for what sake i don’t know, “a new fire? Like a today fire?” I think my brain was just trying to find any way to drag further information out of my superior about this fire as it seemed terrifyingly relevant to my life at that moment. My superior said “i don’t know” as an answer to every question i asked. Then the boss told me to go back to work. I wanted more information about this fire but all anyone would say was “i don’t know.” They would shrug their shoulders and look at me with sympathy and say “i dont know” and tell me to go back to work. I was numb. I knew that some ominous not-to-be-toyed-with force of nature was on my doorstep. I heard people talking about road closures and when i asked which roads all the answer i got was “i don’t know…i just heard the sheriff has closed a road.” I asked, “to comfort or center point?” Again, the answer i got was, “i don’t know.” I heard cattle were being removed from the area and there was talk of possible evacuations to follow. I asked, “cattle removed from where? Center point or comfort?” The answer i got was, “i don’t know. I just heard they were moving cattle and preparing for the possibility of evacuation.” At this point i was terrified that i was not where i was supposed to be. In the event of an evacuation, once evacuation is declared, those in the area can drive out but those outside the area will not be allowed in, under any circumstance. During my OTA schooling my classmate lived through the Bastrop fire. Her fiance was at work. She was at school. They declared an evacuation and closed the roads leading in…my classmate had a little yorkie whom she loved dearly and it was still at the house. She looked that young man dead in the eye and said “you go and get that dog and if you come back without him there will be no wedding because without him there is no life.” Her eyes were filled with tears. His bride to be had spoken. So when he hit the road closure and the sheriff hollered at him to stop and turn around he drove full speed through the barricade, hopped out his truck, outran the cops and the sheriff who were threatening to shoot him if he didnt stop, ran into his house, flames in the yard, grabbed the yorkie and 6 of her scrub outfits, finally complied with the cops demands and ran the other way back to the truck at which point the sheriff told him to get the **** out of there before he arrested his butt for so many reasons, which he did. When she told us the story the next day everybody pitched in to buy them some new clothes and we all told her, “you should marry his ass for sure. Lock that shit down.” We were all imagining this guy outrunning the cops on one side and the fire on the other while carrying a yorkie like a football and dragging hangers of scrubs behind him. He really did love her. They’d been together 8 years. They got married while she was still a student in the program and she went on a honeymoon mid semester. They had a bunch of kids and bought a house in the city. But my classmate’s fiance taught me something that stuck with me…in the event of an evacuation, its important to start out in the evacuating territory when such an event is declared. Otherwise you have to try your luck with guns and tasers and maybe drive through a barricade…which nowadays is more likely cop cars parked sideways across the road than a plastic barrier (probably for the reason that her fiance demonstrated years ago). I was too terrified to be angry but on some level i was. I was angry that i was told to go do work when my property could be on fire and i felt i should be allowed to go investigate that regardless of what needed to be done at work. Yes we were behind, yes the customers were having to wait for orders, and i didn’t, in that moment, give a rat’s ass. If they did not understand my motivation in wanting to go get my dogs and chickens out before an evacuation was declared with them locked in the house and a pen…if they couldn’t see how i would be leaving them to certain death with no escape…then they didn’t deserve the groceries i was meant to bring them. There is responsibility to a job and then there is human decency. When it comes to fire, i don’t play and this fire sounded eerily close and it was being described as 0 percent contained. I was done. I went on the run they asked me to do. I spent another hour doing my job. When i returned, i parked the groceries and got on my phone. I looked up the fire. There wasn’t much information to be had. I couldn’t find the name of it, any mention of its properties, speed, size, direction… the only mention i could find was some people on facebook talking about how they had spotted a fire in the distance while on the softball field and when they called 911 they were told motorcyclists had already driven to a gas station and reported it and the clerk called 911 to say there was a fire halfway between comfort and center point. With nothing else to go on all i knew was that i needed to find the halfway point between comfort and center point on a map. When i found it i showed it to my superior. I said, “This does not make me happy. That is where the fire is. This is where i live. That’s pretty close.” I had worry in my eyes. I had never been so terrified of anything in my life. I knew my face reflected this. I could feel all my muscles pulling into a frown and my eyes doing the bugged out thing. I tried to focus but everything anyone was saying was on mute. I could hear them faintly but what i could hear louder was my heart beating in my ears. I was trying not to faint. I was trying not to have a panic attack. I was stuck here at work when i needed to go to the homestead, like an hour ago. How could this be happening? My superior looked at me and asked, “Do you want to go home early today?” I shook my head emphatically. She asked, “Do you want to go home now?” I grabbed her in a bear hug, said thank you repeatedly ten thousand times, ran to the time clock, ran to my locker, ran through the store, ran all the way to the car, and sped out of the parking lot and towards my homestead as fast as i could. As i drove down the road i realized i was on empty. I would have to stop for gas. Drat!! Darn my unpreparedness! Why did i leave it on empty?! Could the animals wait five more minutes or was it already too late? There was just no way to know of the severity of the situation. In a small town there is no news station, there are no local tv channels, and there is no emergency alert cell phone app for wildfire…only floods, tornados, and winter storms. I sat in the car at the gas station and texted my friend cindy. I had asked her if she knew anything about the fire when i was stuck at work. She was out of town and knew less than i did. She didn’t even know there was a fire. I asked her if she was able to find anything online. She said no but she was calling friends to see if they knew anything. I texted the woman who belonged to one of the original founding families in the town i lived in. She knew everybody and everything that went on there. Not to mention she was my neighbor. She would know what was going on. She responded that there was a fire to the north of us and a fire to the south of us…the one to the north was mostly contained but the one to the south was only 20 percent contained and a big one. Multiple towns’ volunteer fire departments were on scene dealing with the blaze that had gone undiscovered for a while before it was reported by bikers on the highway. She said it was closer to comfort than center point and i relaxed a little bit until my other friend got back to me saying their friend with a police scanner said they heard the fire was fast moving and uncontained so people were being asked to leave the area because they were trying to move cattle across the road to get away from the blaze and traffic was making this difficult…at that point my mind didnt fully wrap around the words i was hearing. They wanted cars to avoid the road the cattle were crossing but i heard “leave the area” and “road closed” and began to have flashbacks to my classmates fiance driving through a police barricade to rescue their yorkie. I wanted to make it back home before police tried to barricade anything in that direction. I stopped the gas at 6 gallons and got back in the car. My body was numb and my ears were ringing. Everything was on mute again. I could hear muffled sirens as i saw cop cars and fire engines wiz past me in the direction i was trying to go. As i drove towards the homestead i saw a slew of cars going in the opposite direction. The road i was on, in the direction i was traveling, was deserted. It was me and a bunch of emergency response vehicles and water trucks that drove past me at high rates of speed.

When i drove into my town it was eerie to see it deserted, no cars on the road. I drove into a haze of brown smoke. Everything seemed veiled in smog. The lighting was a little weird. It was broad daylight…the top of the sky was blue but it melted into a medium brown color when your eye tracked down towards the horizon. The sun seemed a peachy color and resembled more of a full moon than the sun in broad daylight. I drove over the speed limit. The more fire trucks passed me, the more i wanted to get home. I knew Kerrville, Comfort, and Center Point fire crews had responded and were on the scene. At this point i still didn’t even know the name of the fire and wouldn’t learn it until the following day. Concerned ranchers who wanted to know about this fire we couldn’t find any info on kept driving over there to see how it was going and gage if they should prep their livestock for evacuation…so the only info i was getting on this fire was, “stop coming here. Give us room, you’re making this worse.” Determined to follow directions, i did not drive over there, but this meant i lived in the dark, like so many others in our area wondering what in the heck was going on and how worried we should be.

i made it home. My house, my sheds, my chicken coop…my many oaks and cedars, it was all still standing and untouched by flame, but for how long? I still didnt even know if this thing was moving towards or away from me. None of my neighbors did either. No one in my town knew anything other than there was a fire and it was somewhere half way between comfort and center point. I had made it home, given my chickens water and food, let my dogs out and given them water and food. I needed to gain information on this fire. I sat on the porch and researched anything i could find about it. I got on the texas a&m website and found the fire. It was located “5 miles from current location”. At this point it was just called “the center point/comfort fire”. There were no pictures. There was no info. It was listed as 20 percent contained. Acres consumed: “unknown”. The center point volunteer fire department facebook page stated that they were fighting a fire alongside the highway between the towns, no evacuations were in place just yet and if they became necessary in the near future the page would update when further information was available. Feeling rather cut off from what was going on, i decided to load the car and get ready just in case. The town smelled of smoke and my eyes were burning standing outside. If i could smell the trees and grass burning, that was too close for me. Without any kind of real global and effective communication system in place, i felt that it was very possible my notification that an evacuation was necessary may be a sheriff driving down the road honking profusely or just the glow of flames approaching in the distant tree tops. I asked around to neighbors, friends, anyone i could think of. Nobody had heard anything else. We were all just waiting. Waiting for the sight of flames or the sheriff announcing it was time to go…waiting to be told what to do. It was not that there was misinformation. It was a complete and utter lack of access to information or knowledge about where to get it. There was no local fire tracking website. My only resources at my disposal were global and the global site had a lot of boxes listed “unknown” where the details were supposed to be and the last update was from hours ago. I would later learn in frustration that this website could go 16 to 20 hours without an update. People without a news station need updates on fast moving fires before 16 hours.

I began to think about what i could not live without, what would be hard to replace. I didnt load the book i’d written because i knew i could just order another one and get it sent to me if the house burned with it in it. I didn’t take the vhs tapes, the national geographic magazines, my photos, or my recipes because there were so many of each, i couldn’t justify taking some and leaving others so i left the whole collection. When i thought about it, the things i loaded into the car were hemmed pants and all my shoes. I didn’t want to have to re-hem pants by hand or buy more size 5 narrow shoes. Those would be hard to replace so i took them. In my fire proof safe was my jewelry and my 24 diaries i had written over the years. I took those. I put my down coat in the car, my pieces of a patchwork quilt i was working on, and the fantasia vhs tape from my childhood. Last minute i realized how much Cashew loved her Santa toy and i put that in the car. There was a bag of chicken feed and a bag of dog feed in the trunk. I left it there. I unloaded 9 bags of salt chips for the well softener and threw them in the shed. You’ve never seen me move bags of salt so fast. The more my eyes stung the more i wanted to hurry up and get that car loaded. The not knowing was beyond terrifying. This thing could have consumed 1 or 1000 acres. It could be traveling towards or away from us. It could be 20 percent contained or 90 percent contained. It could be here in 10 minutes or 10 hours. I kept thinking, i must be missing something. There must be a more localized website that is update more often than twice a day. There must be some system for getting information out that im just not privy to. I had people in multiple cities stopping their work day to try and research, find out anything they could about what was going on in my town, and relay the information. They watched their news channels to see if there would be any coverage of our new problem. It wouldn’t be until 10 pm that we were mentioned on the news in San Antonio, the nearest big city with its own tv channels.

At this point i was packing a couple of my favorite soft shirts, my meds, my night retainers, a dog leash, the cords for the phone and computer…i tried to put my scythe in the car. I worked so hard to restore it. I kept saying, “i’m not leaving it” but when i realized it was sharp enough to cut through the seat belts and my clothes in the back, and thought about how i planned to chuck whatever chickens i could catch free range into the trunk and they would probably migrate to the back seat and poop on and try to eat everything, i realized it was also a slicing hazard for the chickens. If we were going to last minute evacuate with a wildfire on our heels, the way out was a thin winding road with 100s of acres of thick woods on either side. I might have to drive a little crazy to outrun the flames, so i didnt want sharp things jostling around back there. I took the scythe out and put it back in the house. I would have to leave it. My family told me to load all my water jugs but as i explained to them, water jugs were things that could be replaced….i was looking to take up all the space in the car with things i couldn’t replace. I grabbed my diploma and social security card, the first aid kit, the letters i had written back and forth with my sister over the years, my dvd collection (just because it was compact enough to fit). I couldn’t find my birth certificate so i left it. I grabbed the deed to the house, title to the car… i didnt pack bras or underpants because i figured those were easily replaced. I didnt grab my stoneware or my instant pot. I didnt grab my records or my record player. There were so many things i thought i’d want to pack but when it came down to it i realized the only thing i was really concerned about getting in the car was my lap top, the two dogs, my diaries, and my 6 chickens. My mother asked me why i didn’t just evacuate now preemptively. I told her it wasnt that simple. The chickens would not all likely load. I would have to leave those i couldnt catch behind. I would leave the pen open and they would either die or escape, but either way i wouldn’t have them anymore. In the interest of hanging onto my flock, i wouldn’t leave unless i absolutely had to.

After the car was loaded i wasnt sure what to do with myself. I tried to move myself through the evening chores…feed the animals, water the plants, but it was difficult. I felt uneasy and paralyzed by fear of the unknown. There were no crickets, no cicadas, no grasshoppers buzzing, no bleating of sheep or mooing coming from the neighbors’ longhorns. All the animals were up near ranchers houses in case they needed to be loaded. The birds and crickets had left. It was quiet; eerily quiet. It felt utterly wrong. It felt like when a big predator is in the area and all the small animals go quiet and hide.

Right before sundown the winds shifted and the distant haze i was looking at became a brown cloud that traveled closer and closer and covered more and more of the sky as the minutes ticked on. Most of the smoke seemed to be to the southeast of me but as darkness descended the cloud of brown reached the property and i could look straight up and see the edge of it. Now things really smelled smoky. My throat began to hurt and feel scratchy. My eyes burned as if they were full of cedar pollen. I retreated to the house for shelter but the window unit was just pumping the outside air in. I turned it off. The chickens seemed to know something was up. They wouldn’t get in the hen house until well after nightfall. They kept going out and standing in the dark in the pen. I put the dogs inside the house. Sili didn’t want to go in. She kept trotting to the car and trying to load up, dancing from foot to foot, waiting for me to open the door. Both dogs could smell the smoke. They sniffed the air and paced back and forth whimpering in the house. I tried to remain calm but their behavior wasnt helping. When i finally went to put the door on the hen house i noticed, illuminated by the porch light, around 25 white tailed deer, a few jack rabbits, and a couple armadillos. I think they must have come from Comfort. They looked tired and some of the deer had ash on them.

High winds were forecasted throughout the night and the following day. i listened to the weather radio but fire wasn’t really considered weather so the fire wasnt covered in their broadcast of highs and lows for each day of the week. I turned the weather radio off. I had my family in austin researching and we could find info on the horizon fire, the fires in medina….but nothing on a fire between comfort and center point. There was just the same generic message stating a fire was in the area and people were asked to stay away in order to not make first responders jobs harder. I checked all the volunteer fire fighter facebook pages for nearby towns and there were only updates on the Horizon fire, not the one closest to me. I checked the texas a&m fire tracking website. It hadn’t been updated in first 4, then 8, then 16, then 21 hours. I was seeing a trend here. You could look up the existence of a fire on the site but as for tracking the status….it was not updated often enough to do that. After nightfall i really became anxious because i couldn’t see. In the absence of being able to watch the smoke in the sky or rely on real time information provided through technology, i took to checking the horizon in the direction i knew the fire to be, looking every thirty minutes or so to see if i could see an approaching glow. The car was loaded and the animals were ready, but i would much rather stay. I could take things with me. I could take most of the animals with me. I couldn’t take the oaks, cedars, fruit trees, mimosa, and sumac that i had pruned and nourished over the years. I couldn’t take my trees. I couldn’t take the land with me. I was desperate to know what was going on but they’d asked people to stop driving down there to look, so i didn’t do it.

When the sun set i began to pray. I asked God to watch over the fire fighters and give them the upper hand against this monstrous thing that threatened to consume everything in its path. I asked God to protect my homestead from the fire, protect my dogs and chickens, protect my trees, let the firefighters get a handle on it and let it not come here. I reached out to my former minister in san antonio (i still listen to his sermons online even though i moved and for all intensive purposes consider him to be my current minister). I asked for prayer. My minister, seeing as it was saturday, added me to the list of last week’s prayer requests so i could have my request prayed for by the congregation the following Sunday. He watched the 10 o clock news in san antonio and texted me the update. Apparently San Antonio was finally covering the fire no-one knew anything about between comfort and center point. This was the first time i learned how things were going. He said the fire was 50 percent contained. It had eaten 160 acres so far. It was half way between comfort and center point. They had had to move a herd of cattle across the highway to get them out of the fire’s path but only a shed and a well pump house were lost so far. They had kept it from taking residential structures. Crews from center point, comfort, kerrville, ingram, turtle creek, mountain home, harper, tierra linda, boerne, and fredericksburg were on scene and they would be actively battling the fire through the night. I so appreciated my minister, both for adding my request to a prayer list last minute and for giving me information on what was going on, which apparently only people in san antonio could do. Austin did not cover the fire on their news. The kerrville newspaper went to the scene live and recorded a video segment but i would not see it on the vfd facebook page until over 24 hours later. Fire moves quickly. You dont want to read about it in the newspaper when its on your doorstep, you want real time instant info and you want to know what the heck is going on. Nobody knew what was going on. People in san antonio enlightened us. After the ten o clock news aired i had friends in san antonio sending me all the information my minister had given me. My phone did not stop dinging as texts came flooding in. It was really wonderful of them. I appreciated it. I was a bit worried about one detail. If boerne and fredericksburg were on scene, that was a bad sign. They had to drive from further to get to us and if they were called, they must be struggling with this thing. I wouldn’t panic too hard until they said “Junction”. If they said junction was there i would panic hard because a fire department isnt going to want to go too far away from home base lest a fire spring up in their town while they are away and Junction was a solid hour’s drive away from Kerrville. In the hill country every town has one fire department and so you help each other but you have to be prepared to rush back if anything happens while you’re gone. I didn’t know it but one of my coworkers at the grocery store was a volunteer fire fighter and he was out there battling the fire, keeping it from my land. I’ll never look at him the same again. I love those volunteer fire fighters to death. They’re not like the city fire fighters you see posing in calendars with a 6 pack holding a puppy. They are older men who need knee replacements, middle aged women, and wirey ranchers who know what fire is capable of. They are regular people. They are not the youngest and fittest and buffest around. Their day job is not hitting the gym and doing p90x. They are grocers and ranchers and school teachers and when duty calls they fight fires. And they are my heroes and there’s no one i love more than those men and women that show up every year and keep fire from taking everything we have. They are often clad in jeans and a fire shirt. They dont have all the fancy equipment the city has. But they get it done, and they do a lot more strategizing than has to be done when fighting a structure fire in the city. In the absence of a fire hydrant, water trucks have to be used in the smartest most resourceful way and burning the fuel the fire would consume before it gets there is often the method relied upon to stop the progress of a fire that is consuming large amounts of dry brush and cedars. If the fire hits ash…its going to lose the momentum it would have if that ash was still kindling. These guys and gals are smart and they know how to work together regularly with crews from other towns. Often when examining the aftermath you see that the ground is charred all the way around each house but the house is untouched and standing. Those men and women did that. They kept the flames from each structure and eventually established a perimeter around the fire by using up all the would be fuel and then working in to put out what was still burning within the contained area. Batman, spiderman, superman…they’re all good stories but if you want to see a true super hero, look in the hill country for those regular folk that volunteer to fight fires in jeans and boots and pickup trucks.

At some point i fell asleep for an hour from pure exhaustion. I woke up and realized i had been asleep. I ran outside to check and there was no glow on the horizon. We were still safe for now. I went back inside and checked the vfd facebook pages and the texas a&m website. The website had updated and listed the fire as 80 percent contained. I breathed a huge sigh if relief. They were getting a hold of this fire. 80 was a way better number than 0 or 20 or 50. This was the best news ever.

At 9 am there was still no further update on progress. I texted my boss. I said i was coming in to work, because it was 80 percent contained, but since the fire was still 5 miles from my homestead i was requesting that i be able to check the website for progress updates every hour because i was leaving my dogs and chickens locked up and 30 mph winds were expected later in the day. If those fire fighters didnt get it extinguished by the time the winds picked up, would it get away from them again and would my animals have no chance because of the way i’d left them, locked up? My boss okayed this and said of course i could monitor the website hourly. I drove into work that morning because i knew i was scheduled to be there and at 80 percent contained i couldn’t say why i shouldn’t show up, but i was very uneasy about it. I’d only slept an hour. I was very nervous about leaving my animals locked up and driving far enough away that i couldn’t reach them if the fire shifted or got out of their control. I still had my whole life packed in the car and actually brought the fantasia tape in and put it in my locker because i didnt want it out in the heat all day. When i left i promised the animals they’d be okay and that i’d come back in time if things went south. I prayed to God he’d let me keep my promise.

I arrived at work to find that so many people, worried about the fires, had done what i didn’t do and called in so they could be home in case of evacuations. It was a real skeleton crew and we were drowning. I could have felt some sort of way about the people with spouses who were not five miles from it calling in while i had no one with eyes on the property at home and it was practically at my doorstep, but i didn’t have time to feel any sort of way. There was work to be done and so i had to tuck in. I did my shift in a nervous haze on 1 hour of sleep and raw nerves. I checked the website every hour but it was pointless. It only updated once in an 8 hour shift and it was just to say that it was still 80 percent contained, though i was glad the strong winds that had arrived had not dropped it down to a lower number. Outside the winds ravaged the trees in the parking lot and it gave me a sick feeling in my stomach. I wanted the wind to go away for the moment, come back another day, any other day. I had to sprint the whole shift because i was bringing in the orders 2 to 5 minutes late each time. There was never a moment’s rest. I told myself none of this mattered if God would just keep my property and my animals safe. When church happened in San Antonio that morning the whole congregation prayed for the resolution of the fire between comfort and center point and the protection of the fire fighters who were battling it. At this point the texas a&m website gave me a name for the fire i was referring to. It was called the Sakewitz fire, named for the road it was discovered on. Nearby the Horizon fire was burning in Kerrville, the Das Goat fire had taken over 1000 acres in Medina, and later that day the Crooked Creek fire would start up in Mountain Home and devour 150 acres before it was finished. We were surrounded and fire crews kept having to play musical chairs to drive around and hit each new fire before the wind took it and ran like an olympian shooting for the gold medal.

By the end of my shift i was exhausted and my muscles were more sore than they’d ever been. It was a hard day, but i didnt care. All i wanted to do was get back to the homestead. I drove back towards my town. It was not smokey the way it had been the day before. Yes, there was a brown haze on the horizon but there were not low hanging clouds of smoke lingering in the air. More cars were on the road. I did not see a continuous stream of random towns fire vehicles and water trucks passing me on the road. I felt more relief the closer i got to home. When i arrived at the gate the property was still untouched by fire and i was super happy about that. I let the dogs out. Cashew would not leave my side. She was convinced she needed to be with me at every moment lest i leave without her again. I told the dogs, “i’m here now. You’re good. I’ll be with you the next 3 days. Im not going anywhere. Im here with you.” The air still smelled of smoke and Sili began sneezing a lot. I thought maybe they should come inside so i did the evening chores and then stashed the dogs in the house. Sili laid on the floor and Cashew chewed her deer antler. I looked up the a&m website one more time and it listed the Sakewitz fire as 85 percent contained. This was fantastic news. Crews had really stuck in there to keep the wind from taking the fire back from them and finally as the sun set and the wind died down they were able to make some progress. By 10 pm it was listed as 90 percent contained. The following morning it would be 95 percent contained. Thinking i could relax a little i laid down for a 2 hour nap at dawn and didnt wake up until 1 pm. By 6 pm that afternoon the fire would no longer be listed on the texas a&m website. It was out. The ordeal was over. As crews left the woods for a moment and had time to upload their photos i realized where exactly the fire had been. I drive past those cows and the horse ranch in the pictures weekly to go to Cindy’s. I knew those pieces of land. It really was half way between me and Cindy along the highway that i take to travel back and forth between us every time. The hay fields burned, the cows evacuated, the hills full of trees charred and leafless…twisted remnants of trees stretching towards the sky…i couldn’t believe how close it had been. We were in an area with a burn ban in effect, during red flag fire weather, experiencing drought conditions. All the fires were human error. A brush pile, a burn barrel for trash, a lawn mower, a car fire…. the car fire wasn’t anyone’s fault. The lawn mower was probably an accident. However, i have thought about appropriate jail terms for the people who were burning brush and trash during red flag fire weather with a burn ban in effect. This is why i love volunteer fire fighters so much. They make it so that every rancher doesn’t have to pay for the stupidity of one person doing something dumb. My family member that saw the drone footage of the fire said, “all that beautiful wild land lost…” yes. Most of oklahoma and much of texas is on fire. Lots of land has been lost. We desperately need rain (void of lightening). Dear Lord please send rain, and thank you for volunteer fire fighters.

The following 3 photos are courtesy of HikeTheSky on march 27, 2022.

The Sakewitz Fire

The smoke on the horizon visible from the homestead on the evening of day 1

My mulberry tree picked this day to bud.
My pear tree picked this day to bud. It would be such a loss to have them wake up from winter only to burn.
Facing the city…Heading into nightfall day 1 with no information, deciding that something has to be done about the breakdown of this system and that GIS was created for exactly this kind of thing.
Last pic of the shed before nightfall in case
Last pic of the house before nightfall in case
Last pic of the view before nightfall in case

All of the following photos were taken by the Kerr County Lead Newspaper on March 26 and 27, 2022.

Road Closed
The food and hydration station

Join the Conversation

5 Comments

    1. Me too! I think i owe their safety to a combination of much appreciated grace filled prayer and the hard work and determination of some volunteer fire fighters that have my respect and genuine gratitude. In 160 acres of land burned we lost no animals and no houses. That wasn’t a given. It was hard working men and women that refused to lose a cow or a residence. Theres one thing that i love about the hill country and that is that in a crisis situation against the forces of nature, everyone defends everyone else’s stuff as if it is their own. That, the world could do with more of.

      Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you friend. This one was too close. I did not do any school work today. I unloaded the car and just kind of settled into normal again. I was just starting to feel regular again when high winds kicked up the material in the area that was lying on the ground and it began raining ash. Its flakes with ridged edges and when you touch them they dissolve into powder. Its been a strange week. There’s a chance of rain for an hour at 4 am tomorrow morning. Im hoping it pours. We need it so badly.

      Like

Leave a comment

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: