Friday, July 27, 2012

Grass Fire 2012

I finally have a few moments to write out the events from last Friday's big grass fire, and while it may not seem as dramatic while I explain was a BIG way.

Last Friday my parents were out of town for a business meeting with plans to return sometime during the afternoon.  Nick & I were working together at the office along with our other long-term employee Delma, who is practically another member of our family.  My grandparents called sometime mid-morning and invited all of us to lunch at a local tea-house/cafe just down the block from our office.  We met up just a few minutes after noon and just a few minutes before we walked in the door of the cafe', one of the rural firefighters got a call that there was a "small fire North of Randy's."  Randy being my dad. 

I asked my grandpa if he thought it was anything we should worry about (as my parent's originally built on 3 acres of his land so if a fire is burning North of Randy's, then it's also burning directly West of my grandparents' home).  He said we should go ahead and order, but before we could all even decide what to eat we see & hear water tankers, brush trucks, and sirens being dispatched.  My grandpa decides to go check things out & I encourage Nick to go along.  The rest of our group continues lunch, assuming that grandpa & Nick will be back very soon to join us.  Yeah, not so much. 

The first call from Nick was "we're going to be here awhile" which I think prompted my first call to my aunt & uncle who have a farm and a small amount of equipment which would be helpful in fighting a grass fire.  The second call from Nick was "we need more help"...which prompted a phone call to City Hall so they could call 911 once again and request aid from other departments. 

The third call prompted my panic. It wasn't from Nick, but it was from city hall and they were relaying a message from the rural firefighter who had left the cafe' a few minutes before.  The message was this:  Tell Lauren to get the dogs & anything she wants away from that house.  Cue tears, sobbing, and utter panic. 

Myself, Delma (our employee & dear friend) and her son raced to the nearest vehicle and headed out.  We could already see the smoke as we headed out of town and I just had a feeling it was going to be bad.  And it was.  The flames had already moved practically all the way across the field and were threatening the fence line & wooded area that was directly North of my parents' home.  It was seriously one of the scariest things I've ever seen. 

Delma pulled her vehicle around to the back of the house and I realized Nick & my grandpa were headed around the wooded area going back to my grandparents' house and most importantly out of the smoke-filled air.  I was seriously in all-out hysteria at this point, screaming at my husband telling him he had to let me go in the house & get pictures & the computer & whatever I could save.  But most importantly I had to save the dogs. 

Decisions were quickly made and while I jumped in the car with my grandpa to head to safety, Delma, her son Derek, & my husband loaded up my parents 3 dogs in the back of her car and brought them to our office.  Nick was left at my parents' house with the firefighters to monitor the situation & Delma took our dogs back to our office, shut them in the back room and headed out again. 

Meanwhile I was with my grandpa across the field at his house, where I could see the flames moving closer to his house & also moving into the wooded area that is near both of the homes.  I was terrified, freaking out, and not handling the situation well at all.  I headed back into town to check on my grandma (who we had left at the cafe' on purpose) and she told me that she wanted to stay there.  Where it was safe.  Where one would have to worry about her.  Where no one would have to come back for her if the fire shifted toward their house. 

And off I went again.  But this time they wouldn't let me back down the road to my parents' house. The electricity had been shut off and emergency vehicles were blocking my way.  I met up with Delma on the road & we headed around the back way to my grandparents' house to check on my grandpa.  He was hosing down the yard on the back side of the house preparing for the worst and hoping a good soaked yard would at least slow down the fire if it got any closer. 

And then we waited.  And I made phone calls to Nick.  And he continued to reassure me that he was standing with 2 tankers full of water that promised the would NOT let fire touch the house.  And we waited some more.  And we waited.  And finally it seemed like the stress of the situation seemed to calm down enough that I was able to breath a small smoke-filled sigh of relief.  The houses were safe.  The fire was still burning & it would burn all the way through that wooded area which separates the houses, but the houses and all living things were safe. 

I stayed at my grandparents' house for quite awhile longer.  Long enough to call my parents' & finally inform them of the situation.  I'd made the decision that it was better they not know since there really was nothing they could do from 2 1/2 hours away.  Was it the right decision, I don't know.  But it's the decision I made and once we had basically been given the all clear from the firemen stationed at my parents' house...I made the call.  I basically had to.  
See, when I didn't know what else to do I had called my MIL & my best friend & told them to pray. To pray hard. What I didn't expect was for my best friend to post an urgent prayer request on Facebook that mentioned my name. And I certainly couldn't let my parents discover that they had a huge fire near their home from Facebook. So I called my parents & as calmly as I could, explained what had happened but that it seemed like both homes were in the clear & that everything was going to be ok. 

By this time the roads had been reopened for a bit and I was able to catch a ride to my parents' house and see my husband.  I confirmed just he said, the fire in & nearest to the house had been completely extinguished and the firemen were just keeping watch for flare-ups at this point.  But the fire had gotten extremely close...too close.

I decided that at that point I didn't need to stand around in the heat so I went into my parents' house and found the best clothes I could to change into.  I was drenched in sweat and smelled like a brush fire but didn't really have the time or energy to take a full shower.  I headed back to the office and waited until my parents would arrive home an hour or so later. 
I met my parents at home....and with tear-filled eyes we all just stared and tried not to think about what might have been.  What could have happened if the firemen hadn't done such a wonderful job in protecting my parents' home and the home I lived for 25 years of my life. 

The fire would flare up 3 more times in the next 24 hours and 911 would respond each of those times.  But it's been almost a week and while the ground is still very dry and very black and we can see through fence lines where we couldn't before, we are still oh so very thankful for God's protection and watching over us throughout the entire process. 
I'll admit that I didn't handle things well at all, but I'm also at peace with the fact that in a time of major crisis I did all that I knew to do...pray, and pray like my life (or in this case my family's homes) depended on it. 


Danavee said...

Terrifying. I'm so glad that everything turned out okay.

Danielle said...

Oh my gosh!!! I can't imagine how scary that would be. So glad everyone and everything is ok!

Amanda Anderson said...

Oh Lauren! That's scary and I'm sure I would have been panicked and an emotional wreck too! I'm SO glad that your parents and grandparent's homes are okay and that your wonderful local fire department did such a fantastic job!


Megan said...

Oh my gosh, how scary!!! I'm so glad that everything ended up okay. I would have been a mess, too!!

TracyZLesh @ Then I Got To Thinking said...

That is absolutely one of the scariest things... the unknown, the fire, and thinking of everything important to you inside. It's a sentimental thing... and anyone who has a home they love can understand why you reacted the way you did! I am so sorry for the scare, but so glad that everything was saved. Thank goodness for those skilled people who were out there... and your husband who did everything he could to keep you calm! Sigh of relief!!

Amy Shaughnessy said...

Wow, I can't even imagine the terror you felt! Just reading it made me scared!!


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Jess said...

Praying for you guys! I couldn't even imagine what you and your family are going through. Thank God for firemen right?

Mrs. Pancakes said...

Oh wow that sounds scary...glad everyone is safe but that cannot feel good! Sending you prayers!!

Casa Cannon said...

I finally got to read this. how awful. I am so so sorry! but, thank God the houses weren't touched. Miss you girl!