Monday, August 8, 2011

Fighting Fire

Dry.  Hot.  Dry.  Hot.  That's been the mantra of our summer here.  "Where the wind comes sweepin' down the plain?"  Not so much... at least until the last couple of days.  Of course, at this point, it's so stinking dry that we don't WANT wind.  And as much as we'd love to see the rain come our direction, we'd much prefer if the lightning stayed elsewhere.

As always, though, do we get what we want?

Er... no.

Instead, we get wildfires, big ones, some reportedly caused by lightning and some with causes unknown.  Several structures have been destroyed and many families have been evacuated, left to go somewhere safe and wonder which they'll return to - the comforts of home or a charred wreck.

The wildfires have been burning off and on for more than a week now.  A few days ago a couple of my friends had to evacuate their homes for fear of the inferno; luckily they were able to return safely.  Some of my other friends, not knowing my side of town as well as theirs, called or texted to make sure that we were well out of harm's way, and for that I'm grateful, both for their concern and for the fact that it wasn't necessary. 

The incessant heat - today's high was 106 without heat index, which rose to about 112 or 113 - and the wind have hampered the firefighters' efforts.  The fire is jumping (and closing) highways, burning power poles along with all the brush and dry trees, and just making an absolute mess of things.  The folks who live in the area where the fire currently burns often have wells instead of city water, so when the power goes out, so does the pump... and with it their ability to sprinkle their house.  Since the fire is so large, it's hard for anyone to keep track of where the fire is going and whose houses have been hit.  Most of the firefighters on the scene are volunteers, and many have been working 18-24 hour shifts without sleep.  The National Guard has been sending helicopters out to dump water on the fires, which helps, but it still hasn't been under control.

There are storms on the radar right now.  I hope they bring some relief.  I just worry that more lightning will strike and there will be another fire to fight... just what we certainly do NOT need.

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