Susan Spess Shay

Still playing make believe.


Fire Season, Again, Again

So yesterday, Sister Debbie and I had planned to go after work to take pictures at the ranch where we spent a lot of time growing up.

Don’t you love making plans so they can change?

Early in the afternoon, we started seeing heavy smoke coming from south of town. Fire Season, again!

Picture by Matt Shay as he left C-Town

Picture by Matt Shay as he left C-Town

There’s one thing about our Small Town World, when tragedy happens, everyone pitches in to help. Busses couldn’t leave the schools because so many of the kids live in burning areas and many of the roads were closed, so teachers voluntarily stayed to watch over them until parents could find a way in to get them. (Not! Easy!)

Friends picked up children when parents couldn’t get to town.

People offer you a place to stay if you can’t get home. And today there’ll be tons of clothing and furniture donations if they’re needed.

#2 son tried to go home later in the afternoon, but they’d closed Highway 64, so he turned around and left town going north instead of south.

Picture by Matt Shay

Picture by Matt Shay

We tuned in our police scanners and listened to neighborhoods outside of town being evacuated. We heard about people who couldn’t go home because the roads were closed.

Yep, we prayed.

Then it was time for me to go home. I decided to go down through Terlton (a super-small town near ours), across Benight Road (a roller coaster road) up Highway 48 and home.

BUUUUUT . . . Then I got to where Grandma Reeves used to live and decided to turn at Dog Center and head east. After all, we’d heard that part of the world had been burning a few hours earlier. Should be finished by now, my smoke weary brain reasoned. Right?


Besides, we have land in that area and I wanted to see how badly it had been damaged.

I drove a ways and recognized several places I hadn’t seen in years. Then the smoke got a little heavier. I started seeing airplanes drop low and leave water behind.

Finally, I met this coming out of the smoke.


A few others were driving my way, too, and lots of them had very young fire fighters on them. They didn’t stop and make me go back (maybe because I was pulled over to let them pass) but seeing the flames ahead (and next to me) I turned around and went back the other way as fast as I could.

That’s when the fun started. 😉

I turned on a road I thought was going my way. Then I saw one heading east again. I turned on it, thinking it would take me to 48.

Pretty soon there were heavy duty fences and lots of trailers and little outbuildings. I wasn’t passing through a neighborhood. I was on private property, proven when I pulled up to a pair of iron gates. Closed. Locked. Iron gates.

About that time I thought I heard the theme to Deliverance playing and, expecting to see people running out of their buildings at any moment (either to sell me an illegal substance I wasn’t interested in OR to shoot me) I did a perfect three point turn and zipped out of there as fast as my little car would go.

It’s amazing what you find in our countryside. 😉 Especially when you have one of “those” imaginations. LOL.

I finally found a cute young deputy next to a roadblock and asked him if I was headed the right way to get to Benight Road.

Yep. In a couple of miles, I’d be on it.

Will there be a sign that says, “Benight?”

After yelling the question and echoing it a few times (my deputy was from Stillwater, so he didn’t know that answer) the Head Deputy in Charge said, “Nope. 5700 Road.”

I spoke to G-Man a time or two on my cell phone (TGFCP!), keeping him up on where I was in case I didn’t make it home, and told him I was having too much fun!

How often do I get to be in the middle of all that action (accidentally, of course) and not be in a world of hurt?

I finally made it to 48, and saw the fire in the distance.


I made it home just fine, but I was a little wrung out when I got there.

When everything stops smoldering, Sister Debbie and I might have to drive out that way and snap a few pictures.

My next door neighbor drove through the area where I couldn’t go and shared these pictures with me.

Picture by Melissa Smith-Chenoweth

Picture by Melissa Smith-Chenoweth

Picture by Melissa Smith-Chenoweth

         Picture by Melissa Smith-Chenoweth

Thank you, Matt Shay and Melissa Smith-Chenoweth for sharing your pictures.

And a huge thank you to the Fire Fighters and people who worked to put out the fires. We appreciate you!!!

Fire Proof.