Susan Spess Shay

Still playing make believe.

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Colorado Burning

The fires in Colorado are so horrible, I’m praying for everyone who lives out that way.

When I think about the fear, sadness and loss the people who live in that area must be feeling as well as the worry and the scariness of getting what you can’t bare to lose gathered up and ready to leave, I can’t help but remember our experience.

We had a grass fire flash through the 50+ acres we lived on before we moved to Pryor Creek, many years ago. I was pregnant with either #2 or #3.  I’d just been to town and had lunch with Sister Debbie and I was taking her back to her house.

She lived a couple of miles down Terlton Road, but when we got to the turn we saw C-Town’s chief of police stopping traffic and noticed a nearby field had recently burned.

I stopped and rolled down the window. “Hey, Ted. Is that fire headed for my house?”

“Yeah, Susan. It’s probably there by now.”

Always one to run toward trouble (I know, not a real bright trait) I pulled a u-turn and headed for home just as fast as my little Phoenix would carry us. I thought G-Man was out somewhere on a job, but instead he and all the guys were near our house and my cousin Rick’s house, fighting that fire.

I’m not sure if the fire was tall because the wind blew so hard or if the wind blew so hard because the tall fire whipped it up, but it was big. And hot. And s-c-a-r-y!

We had all our hoses hooked to facets and were spraying down everything we could. G-Man had a hose near Rick’s house and said the fire burned right up and nearly gave him a kiss before he had it doused.

The Brown Brothers’ tank truck pulled in with a load of water. They unloaded it on the fire and headed back for another load.

Still, with all our fighting, the fire swept through, burned off our yards and gardens and moved on past us, onto the old refinery property behind us. Because our houses weren’t very old, we still had some trees we’d knocked down but hadn’t removed from the property. (We both had fireplaces, so why get rid of them?)

Anyplace a tree had caught fire, it smoldered and blazed up again and again.

Rick had an old, dry pond that the bulldozer driver had pushed dead wood into. That pond had glowing embers that stayed hot for days. Rick and Barbara even set their alarm and got up all night long to be sure the fire hadn’t blazed up again.

Like I said, it was a scary time, but nothing like what’s happening in Colorado. We didn’t have a warning or much time to get things out of our house. But there wasn’t much chance of our houses burning, either. (Some, but not much.)

I never did hear how our fire started, but it wasn’t a lightning strike. (I’m guessing that’s how the Colorado fire started.) More likely, ours was a cigarette out someone’s window.

The only good thing? The grass seemed a lot greener that next spring. What is it they say about an ill wind?

Have you ever lived through a fire? I wonder if it scares everyone as much as me?