Wednesday, April 3, 2019

The sight no one ever wants to see

Yesterday in the early afternoon, I heard the sound of a large truck rumbling up our road. I stepped onto the porch and saw it was a firetruck, no siren but with lights ablaze.

The truck went beyond our driveway, where only two other neighbors have property. Don and I looked around but saw no smoke, so we speculated perhaps it was a medical emergency.

Oddly it wasn't until another neighbor called that it was confirmed the truck was following smoke. Our neighbor's vantage point was clearer than ours, even though we're closer, because trees blocked our view. I walked down our driveway and saw this:

This was definitely one of those heart-in-the-throat moments as I imagined our neighbor's house burning. Additional trucks came in, more and more of them.

The cows were intensely alert toward the smoke.

As I trotted down the road toward the neighbor's a quarter-mile away, I was surprised to hear what sounded like gunfire. Could it be ammunition exploding in the fire? In fact what I heard was simply the sound of the fire itself. I'd never been this close to a full structure burning and it was noisier than I realized.

As it turns out, it wasn't our neighbor's house, it was their barn. It was a small barn, more like a large shed, and it was completely gone by the time I got there.

One of the neighbors said she had started a burn pile the day before, and the wind ignited the embers and started the structure on fire. Thankfully no one was hurt and no animals were in the barn.

It does illustrate the need to be responsible with burning. Right now the fire danger in our area isn't high since we're just out of winter, but it's still critical to keep burn piles contained and away from buildings.

I'm just thankful it wasn't any worse.


  1. We live in a rural area and this past week we have personally experienced two fires in our ditches. Mind you, we have had an excess amount of snow this past winter and recent rains. My husband was working outside and noticed smoke in two separate locations about a 1/2 mile apart. Upon investigating the situation he determined it was quickly spreading and called the fire department and a neighbor. My husband then took off toward the fires with a gas powered leaf blower that we use to blow corn stalks and bean stubble off of our big pieces of machinery. The neighbor showed up with his leaf blower and between the two of them they were able to get the fires under control before the volunteer fire department could arrive. It was determined that the fire probably began with some sparks thrown off of a truck traveling down the highway. You just never know what might be the cause of a serious problem. Being alert and knowing what to do quickly can make all the difference. We also heard of two other field fires of 20 and 80+ acres burning due to people starting burn piles when it was too windy. Be safe out there... CWfromIowa

  2. Wow. Yes, they were actually lucky that's all they lost. We've had a mild winter here and are leery of the summer forest fires that are sure to pop up.

    Steve Davis
    Anchorage, Alaska

  3. Actually we were told by the fire dept. after they put out a fire from trash(wind had caught a few embers blew them from a burn barrel to nearby grass)is that grass even though wet and ground is still wet is particularly combustible in the spring. This happened a number of years ago and have been really cautious this time of year since that time. Fire is always scary. So glad no one was hurt.

  4. We've had a hell of a rainy season where I live, which means a hell of a fire season is coming. Of course, the lit-cigarette-tossing idiots will never learn, and more of them are being "imported" every day...

  5. I think people sometimes assume that even in winter and wet, things will not burn.

  6. I remember burn piles in what became suburban NYC from RFD.. rural free delivery..rued

  7. One of my biggest fears.

  8. I had a large brush pile that I was waiting for the right moment to burn. The wind was in the correct direction and at only 2 mph and it had just rained the day before. I had waited for about 4 months to get the right conditions. Even then I had the tractor idling near the pile and the garden hose ready but it all went well. Scared me to death the whole time it was burning.

  9. So glad they didn't lose any animals. A friend of mine, right down the road, had a barn fire just over a year ago. Very early AM, it was spotted by an early rising neighbor who called 911 while their spouse called my friend and woke up the family. The barn was fully engulfed by that point, and she lost several animals who weren't able to escape.

  10. A neighbor burned old straw bedding his cows had used in the pasture. It was out and checked. A full three weeks later 45 mph gusts kicked up embers and caught grass along a fence line on fire. Rural fire dept. got it out but talk about lucky. The fence was between fields and ended at a road. Had the wind been from the other direction there would have been 3 quarter sections of grass that was unglazed for 3 years and river bottom trees with a 100 year old country church and a half dozen farm houses near by. Scary. Natokadn