I woke up about 6:45 on Thursday to put out an old A/C unit for collection. I thought I heard fire engines. I looked around but didn’t see anything. Later in the day, I looked out and saw fire headed down the hillside for my area.
Weirdly though, I thought about the beauty of the smoke clouds and how the animals would fare both during an after the blaze. I knew I could run away. Or, I though I could, till the shut down all the streets and told us if we hadn’t left to shelter in place.
Into the night we watched the flames leap a hundred feet into the air. And the helicopters continued to drop water. We have the best fireman in our county. I mean, the best. We also have the toughest brush control laws in the state. Odds stack in our favor.
Twice the fire came down the hill and my friends evacuated. I watched, and then went back to cleaning up the ant attacks in the kitchen. After all, I couldn’t do anything about the fire except pray for the firefighters and the animals. Into the night, the choppers whirred overhead as if it were a war zone — which it was.
Things seemed better Friday, except for another ant attack. Then my grandmother had a blood pressure spike — whose wouldn’t. So I had to go take care of her at her house — even nearer to the fire. She’s an “I’ll never leave, except they carry me out” type. I’m a “if it all goes, it’s a chance to start fresh” type.
Things became progressively worse. The fire came back again. Ash began to fall like snow, like a scene from that movie Volcano. I put on a mask and goggles, went out to the yard and watered everything down. When I came back in, there was an automated phone message on her answering machine — yeah, she has one.
It was from her insurance company. They were telling my elderly grandmother she should make her home safe by removing brush and leaves. Wow, the compassion. She elderly and you’re telling her to save her house and not herself because she insured her house with you? You couldn’t even have her (an) agent call to check on her? Good Neighbor, my eyes.
All the while I was in the backyard, water, in the smoke and ash, as the flames rose, I prayed. And ok, this time I appealed to Our Lady of Good Counsel. You probably don’t know her, and wouldn’t think of her in a brushfire, unless your Australian or have Benedictine associations. Strangely, the Benedictine community of New Norcia doesn’t even mention her on their website now.
The fire turned away, again. We sat in the house watching the news, with the A/C on because it was blazing and the drapes drawn to prevent smoke coming in. Eventually, I went to bed, around 11PM, but the helicopters flying by kept me up till 3AM. They fly quite low.
By Sat morning, things seemed a lot better — at least for residents (not so good for wildlife). The air still smells of smoke and we can’t open any doors and widows though. The fire is still being fought, but it’s cooler . It may rain. Things will be ok — and I’ll be putting out extra food and water everyday to help the wildlife even if that means I end up with deer, bears, mountain lions or even more gophers.
Really I’m just writing this post to thank all the fire depts that sent crews, the prisoners who came and worked the frontlines, the neighborhood, the police, and EMTs. And too, to say thanks to God for sparing us all (we really don’t deserve it), and thanks to Our Lady of Good Counsel, who will certainly be mentioned by me!
I think I’ll be sleeping all the rest of this week. Hopefully our fire fighters will be able to do the same soon.