Butler II Fire: Home Again in Fawnskin

I arrived back into Fawnskin late last night and so I couldn’t see much of anything. The cold night air was a whopping 37 degrees and so I stumbled into my warm little home–not bothering to unpack. I just crawled into my warm bed and finally got a good nights sleep for the first time in seven days.

My dreams were filled with firefighters surrounding my house, neighbors coming up to my windows to chat (and other odd activities that only occur in dreams) and as the images continued–they finally prompted me awake.

It was eerily silent.

The main highway into town is still closed and when I opened the blinds and the door my eyes were met with the calming sight of Grout Bay with the ridge line and area below Gray’s Peak still intact.

Only the quiet murmurs of the local waterfowl and a few birds reached my ears and the fresh scent of pine filled my nostrils as I took a deep breath. Not a whiff of smoke or scent of burnt wood was in the air.

As I stepped out on my deck, the calmness of the surroundings comforted me. A light drizzle of rain caressed my face and the neighborhood squirrel made her appearance. Nothing seemed to have changed much.

I put on a sweatshirt and jeans and ambled down to town. Amangela’s was open so I grabbed a cup of java and learned that the duo had obtained a pass to come in to open for the firefighters. Amanda said that the firefighters would arrive in their trucks and there would be a flurry of activity before another lull.

Now armed with liquid warmth, I hit my favorite trail to eyeball just what was reality since so many people have been telling some “whoppers.”

No sign of the fire on my amble up the trail–only signs that the firefighters had been cutting fire breaks and widening the trails for equipment access.

Further up, I spied a few spot fire burn areas and some retardant. The birds were busily chirping and a soft wind whistled through the trees above me. Their soft whispers calmed me.

Once on the main road, there was no one to be seen. I hiked up the road to the trail that backs up to Camp Whittle, the one that passes the animal barn, and it was there I saw just how close it had come.

The burn area was no more than ten feet from some of the camp buildings. The amazing thing about fire is how it can devour certain areas while leaving others virtually untouched. On one side of the road much of the area was burned but on the other side things were unharmed.

As I braved the trail up into Hanna Flats, I noticed how healthy forest areas allow the fire to burn past the big trees. In other areas, the underbrush, crowded saplings and younger trees push the fire up into the crowns of the larger trees.

Some of the giants were burned on one side but not the other. I spied fire hose waiting to be claimed and then began to find hot spots–areas that were actively smoldering despite the light drizzle–I decided to cut my hike short since I didn’t want to be in the midst of any possible fire activity.

On my return to town I spied a sheriff and a couple of forestry vehicles. Neither stopped to chat but continued their patrols. When I got nearer to town I spied the road block–we spoke for a minute only because I stopped to give the location of the hot spots. I was reassured that the crews would be heading up shortly.

As I headed onto the pavement, one of my neighbors drove up to chat. They had also returned last night. He said he felt like he had a mental hangover and as we shared stories and information I suddenly heard the roar of engines…and as I looked up, my gaze fell upon a parade.

The parade gave me comfort since firetruck after firetruck passed on their way to begin another day of work. It is their job, yes–but to us it means everything in the world.

As I ambled home I felt reassured and more peaceful than I have felt in a week. One of my dog pals trotted up for a scratch and a hug–and all the firemen waved as they passed by…it was the best parade of my whole life…

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This entry was posted on Saturday, September 22nd, 2007 and is filed under Uncategorized.

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