Sunday, June 16, 2013

An Uncomfortable Sight

An Uncomfortable Sight

Nothing strikes terror into the heart of a grassland rancher more than the sight of a large plume of smoke up wind from you. Especially if conditions are hot and windy. The other day we had an electrical storm. Later the weather service said there had been up to 6,000 lightning strikes. It was pretty impressive. The day after the storm we needed to go into town. As we were driving back we saw a large plume of smoke up in the National Forest. We weren’t sure where it was located until we got close to home and could see that the fire was generally up wind from us. Dang! We were now beginning to get concerned but not panicked because we knew it was far away and that the conditions weren’t conducive to it traveling fast and far.
We got a call that Cal Fire wanted to stage at our ranch but by the time we got the call they were staging at our neighbors. That served to loosen our concern because we knew that fire fighters always stage where they think they will be safe. So we settled back to watch the progress and take pictures.

Of course that made us start thinking about evacuation procedures. I’ve got our valuables within easy reach and I know where the cat carrier is. Our neighbors are about 10 miles from here and are agreeable to us taking our horses over there. As long as they, too, are out of danger! Otherwise, they say we’ll be in a caravan going somewhere together! Sara says “don’t take fire for granted!” Once a fire started at the Nye Ranch out on 162. In 20 minutes it blew all the way to highway 20 which is 30 miles to the south. That’s about 75 miles an hour! Of course, that’s in perfect fire conditions – high wind and low humidity. Still and all one wants to be prepared. If we ever got caught in a Nye Ranch situation maybe I’d gather up all that I could carry and jump in the lake. There’s no way to imagine what it would be like. In the movies the scenes are doctored. In real life it’s awfully smoky and embers are flying all over the place with debris. You have to experience it to know what it’s like.

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