Saturday, July 3, 2021

Close call

Day before yesterday, we had thunderheads building up. The rain skirted us, but we spent much of the late afternoon and early evening watching lightning hitting beyond the ridge to the north of us.

(No, this is not my photograph.)

But thunderstorms this time of year are a serious cause for concern, especially during the kind of heat wave we've been experiencing over the last two weeks. I wasn't altogether surprised to see helicopter activity the following day, toting a bag for dipping water out of lakes.

I got online and searched for Idaho wildfires, and saw there was a small and (thank God!) under control fire about ten miles to the north of us. Worth watching, but not an immediate threat.

Not ten minutes later, we got a phone call from an old and dear neighbor from our last home, asking if we were okay and how close was the fire? We told him what we knew, and that we were fine.

As it turns out, our old neighbor almost...wasn't.

It seems on Wednesday, a spark from a train that passes below his house caught the terrain on fire, and it came roaring uphill. What followed was a hellish chaos as neighbors evacuated and firefighters took control. The fire burned up 20 acres of timber – tall mature standing timber – on the parcel of land next to him, but by the grace of God the firefighters were able to stop the flames before they burned any buildings, so our neighbors' homes are intact.

Just like that, our old neighborhood was nearly obliterated. Three times in my life, we've nearly lost our home to wildfires. They terrify me.

This Independence Day weekend, lots of people will be doing lots of things with lots of fireworks. Please, I beg you, if you're in the dry west, be sensible. The heroic firefighters who saved our old neighborhood don't need or want any more work.

Meanwhile, our neighbor's harrowing experience put a flame under us (bad pun, sorry) to pull together the bug-out bags we disassembled during the chaotic months we were moving. We need to make sure we have copies of important documents, contact information for friends and family, pet accouterments, and supplies to get us through several days with a reasonable amount of dignity.

After all, we never know when a wildfire (or earthquake) could take it all away.


  1. I admit it; I'm a guy. I like setting off fireworks as much as the next guy. That being said, I DO live in the Wild, Wild West and CANNOT see how anyone can rationalize setting off fireworks in the tinderbox conditions that exist here every July; especially the airborne stuff!!! Folks use your heads... The ones on your shoulders...

  2. That thunderstorm put us on high alert, too. We updated our meds and contents of our bug out bags, too. Fire totally freaks me out. Stay safe and vigilant.

  3. I am grateful every time I hear of fires out West that I live in damp Alabama even though we do have fires occasionally. Getting the bags ready seems like a prudent action right now.

  4. Scary stuff! I am celebrating with you that everything/one is ok. Thank the Lord for those awesome firefighters!

  5. A few years ago it was so hot and dry that we had burn bans. What I couldn't figure out is why the burn bans did not apply to fireworks or to the subdivision clearing off lots to build houses.

    We have been hot but also regular rains this year but we are still very careful when burning sticks or setting off fireworks.


    kathy in MS

  6. Just so you'll know, the day of the year with the highest number of wildfires caused by humans is July 4th. Lightning doesn't even come close to causing as many.

  7. Grateful everyone is okay. That said - yes, people, use sense.

  8. I live back in Wyoming after almost 3 years of Idaho living that included fires dropping ash on us every year.
    I love fireworks.... and shoot them off every New Year Eve if we have snow cover and are not having a blizzard. They were banned in locally except for the big display held in an area of irrigated fields.
    I’m praying for all who are living in with extreme heat and drought. We hit 109 a couple weeks ago, no AC but live at an altitude that generally brings cool temperatures when the sun goes down. Makes days of 90s seem more tolerable.

  9. Whew! Stay safe out there! Great advice about those fireworks! Just take one little spark to set off a forest burner!

  10. In a local bedroom community to our state Capitol there are millions - and I mean MILLIONS - of dollars of fireworks legally purchased and set off each year. They totally out shine the two Government sponsored displays in the communities. This year there is a ban due to the fact we at about 25% normal precip for the past 2 years. I am so proud to say that there were nearly ZERO illegal ones set off in the communities. I saw 3. I also saw the cops were on those guys like a cat on an unsuspecting mouse. I really expected to see a few more.

    It is nice to say I live in an area where common sense still reigns. Now SPENDING that amount on fireworks makes me shake my head, but those who do it provide a spectacular show for all of us and their yards, driveways and streets are all cleaned and swept 'by dawn's early light', each year.

    God Bless America - as she was founded!