Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Wildfire

We started our long weekend with a trip out for breakfast tacos because we had no food in the house, a condition that has been happening more and more now that we have three food-eaters with us. Bananas don't stick around very long. Neither does bread, yogurt, milk, or jelly. Anyway, all the boys loved the handwashing machine,. IMG_3539 IMG_3541 And after that we were going to go walk and scooter across the dam like I used to like to do when I was in high school, but found it blocked with an iron gate and razor wire fence, which were apparently a post-9-11 addition. No breezy walk by the lake for you! The terrorists have won. We tried to make the best of it and find a park to play at and stumbled on a nice one down by the lake. People were fishing and letting their dogs play in the water. We let the kids "wade" which, predictably, turned into swimming, fully-clothed. IMG_3543 It was so nice and Ryan and I both commented how pretty the drive had been and how lucky the people who live there were to drive there every day.

Then came Sunday night. The nice neighborhood we had driven by to get to the lake had been evacuated because of a wildfire. Two families we know from church were displaced. No one could get any information about what was going on.  It seemed like every time I went back to Facebook someone was talking about another fire.  There was a new one to the west of us, then to the east.  Another, huge fire was burning further away, southeast of our town.  The fire was so large that we could see the giant plume of smoke from our upstairs windows, even though it was more than twenty miles away.  Neighborhoods were being evacuated, houses were burning, calls were going out for more firefighters and prayer and rain and miracles.  Ryan and I stayed glued to Facebook and Twitter, the only "news outlets" available.  Our friends were posting that they were safe, but that they didn't know if their house was still standing.

I packed a bag of clothes for all of us and put it in the car.  Ryan went out and watered the grass with the hose and knocked down the tall brush next to our fence with the lawnmower.  We joked that we were overcautious, but other friends were doing the same.  It seemed like the fires were popping up with no warning and anyone's neighborhood could be next.

Monday morning was beautiful and cool, the coolest it's been in months.  But instead of throwing open the windows and planning what I was going to bake first, I stepped out on the porch to an eerie pink sky and a strong smell of smoke.  I turned on the TV to see our city on the national news, the fire to the southeast had burned more than three-hundred homes.  The fire near the lake was still out of control and was burning through houses.  Someone posted a terrifying video to Facebook of a street with houses on fire on either side.  Another fire popped up about ten miles away last night and burned another half-dozen houses.  Two more family friends faced possible evacuation.

It has been the driest, hottest summer on record for our city.  We haven't had meaningful rainfall in months.  Once fires start, it is very difficult to put them out and they spread very quickly.  The suitcase of clothes is still in the car and I'm keeping a close eye on the location of all the loveys in case we are threatened by a fire and need to evacuate.  So far we've been so, so lucky and the weather is changing to cooler and less windy.  Hopefully this will give the firefighters a chance to gain some ground against the two major fires that have been burning since Sunday afternoon.  Hopefully it will keep new fires from starting that would threaten new areas.  We all have to be incredibly careful.  No grilling is allowed.  People who flick cigarettes out of car windows face being arrested.  When Ryan was mowing the brush the other night he carefully watered with the hose afterward to make sure the grass didn't get too hot.

What we really need is rain and lots of it.  Days and weeks of steady rain are the only thing that will change the dangerous conditions created by the drought.  Unless a tropical storm brings us some rain, it doesn't appear that this will happen anytime soon.  For now all we can do is be careful, pray, and try to help each other as best we can.

15 comments:

AJU5's Mom said...

Arizona, New Mexico, and western Texas faced similar fires in the early summer. And, when they were over, I thought we were all done with fires for the year. Then I heard about these ones... Praying you get the rain we eventually got and no more fires pick up.

A. said...

Hoping for favorable weather and lots of luck for you and your fellow Texans!

Sarah said...

Oh my gosh! That's so scary! I hope you all stay safe and get the rain you need soon.

LL said...

It is so scary and sad. I just checked again but our 10-day forecast still has 0% chance of rain each day :( I hope your area stays fire-free, we've been lucky so far too.

Steph said...

Just heard about the fires in your area on the news this morning. Glad you're okay so far - praying for all those affected.

Kim said...

Wildfires are so scary! A few years ago one popped up behind my parents' home and the firefighters stopped it *just* short of their backyard.

I'm hoping for a change in the weather for you guys and for those firefighters to keep doing amazing things!

Mary said...

That's so scary. I will definitely keep your family and your neighbors in my prayers. Fingers crossed for some good rain!

Hanah said...

Stay safe, I am thinking about you guys.

BiblioMOMia said...

So scary. I'm thinking of you and your boys.

You're so much better to be prepared. Go ahead and pack the paperwork and mementos you need. There are wonderful lists on sites like red cross and the cdc. My fingers are crossed for you, and wishing you rain...

Snarky Mommy said...

Totally scary. Stay safe!

Dr. Maureen said...

Oh no. No no no. I heard about the fires, but actually somehow forgot you live in Texas. I'll definitely send up some prayers for you all.

lonek8 said...

it is a rule in our house that you never go to the store without buying bananas because we go through them so fast.

stay safe!

WhitMc said...

Oh gosh, praying for your family and for lots and lots of rain.

Brooke said...

Thinking of you guys, and of all the families in Texas who are facing wildfires. So scary. Stay safe.

Kyla said...

It IS scary! I hope the fires stay away from you guys. The drought is what caused our major gas leak last week...we are STILL gas-less, but at least we didn't go KA-BOOM!