Notes from the Peanut Gallery

Saturday, February 9, 2008

Grass Valley Grass Fire

This fire was located about 15 miles north of Brackettville, TX on Tularosa Road in what is known as Grass Valley Draw. I shot it from just under 15 miles away. The fire was located on the Postell Ranch where yet another somebody decided they could handle a controlled burn despite the very dry conditions and the burn ban. At least there was no wind today. It still took three fire departments to contain this fire. BVFD had two trucks on site, Val Verde County Rural Volunteer Fire Department had two trucks, and Uvalde sent one. More trucks would have arrived if not for the Carta Valley fire which has been burning for a couple of days now and is now spread out over thousands of acres.

The road into the Postell through a car's windshield.

The fire came right up to their home. The lights on the right side of the shot is the house. The light on the left side is the fire. The foreground is blackened by fire, not by nightfall. They managed to keep their home and property from catching fire. Lucky for them they have a well on the property feeding into a large, concrete tank. All the brush trucks that attended the fire were able to fill up their reservoirs without having to drive 15 miles back into Brackettville.

A firefighter on Unit #25 running the pump for the hose.

A Val Verde volunteer firewoman prepping her engine.

Cedar is quite volatile when it catches, this was a fairly small tree sending sparks so high into the air and I shot it from about 250 feet away.

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Controlled Burn Out of Control on 674

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I was standing in the kitchen when the call came, "Attention Brackettville Fire Fighters, we have a controlled burn that is OUT OF CONTROL on Cedar Creek Road 4.3 miles off 674." The emphasis is not mine, it's how the dispatcher said it. Fire Fighters and Sheriff's deputies alike are up to here with these "controlled burns." It's just so dangerous.

At the fire station, as the volunteers were gearing up for the fire, two members were preparing to go even as another was trying to find two more volunteers to go in their place. So many fires last week has caused volunteers to miss work they couldn't afford to miss. The guys are still willing to go even if it means loss of income and, possibly, the loss of a job. BVFD members stepped up and the two men were able to return to work, but what's remarkable was that they came to the station without hesitation. They were ready to go. And even as they were leaving they made sure to let the others know to call them if they were needed.

As I was typing this up the Sheriff's department cancelled this call. The landowner reported that his fire was, in fact, under control. Better safe than sorry, I suppose.