Monday, July 26, 2010

How Nate (Mostly) and I (A Bit) Prevented a Forest Fire

The burned door: the origin of the fire

John has spent a month away from home working in Connecticut and New Hampshire. Way back in June, just after Arthur's visit, he left for the first out of state job at 3 PM. I then began some chores and Nate went out to mow.  I happened to glance out the kitchen window and noticed smoke coming from the hill up the mountain side. I was curious about the smoke but thought there was no problem. It was white smoke — wood smoke. I thought perhaps John had gotten a fire permit and either had not told me or had told me and I had forgotten. Nate, I learned later,  thought the same thing as he mowed and observed the smoke. John is so safe with fire that we did not worry. But ten minutes later as I looked out again, I saw flames licking at a sapling on the hillside. And suddenly I saw Nate running as hard as he could up the hill to the fire. Then I knew we had a problem. The smoke was now black and that is a very bad sign. I ran out and by the time I reached the fire, Nate had pulled it apart with his hands and was beating the flames with his shirt. I ran back to the house and filled a five gallon bucket with water from the hose (which wouldn't reach) and dragged it up to Nate who used it to safely and completely douse the flames. After thanking Nate for saving the mountain from a forest fire, we reconstructed what happened.

The burned sawhorses.
We had a spare insulated exterior door with a large window in it lying on sawhorses on plywood back there on the hill. There was black sheathing under the door. The intense sunlight (yes, it gets intense here at times!) shining through the glass in the door created enough heat to ignite the black sheathing, which ignited the plywood. The sapling was never damaged by the flames that I saw from the window. But some of John's lumber (and all the sheathing and the entire door) were destroyed. We were very fortunate at the outcome and learned that you can never, ever let your guard down about fire. We had been careless when we piled up stuff out back. I am so thankful that we were home when it happened. I am doubly grateful that Nate was here to put the fire out quickly and effectively. He knew exactly what to do.



  1. That is so frightening to read, Andree. We have dreadful bushfires here and some are started in that exact same way. Well done for your quick thinking and actions. One can never be too careful where fire is concerned.

  2. How scary! I'm glad everything turned out OK.


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