Fire Fighting Farm Family
January 31, 2014
“I smell smoke.” That was the calm observation of our son, which catapulted our family into a grass fire fighting frenzy.
It was about 10 p.m. on Wednesday when we looked outside to see our farmyard ablaze. We learned later that a cord to a heater in a stock water tank shorted out, sending a spark into the nearby dry grass. The fire came up from the south behind our red barn and, because of the wind, went around it and then back north toward our house.
The 911 operator gave this advice: “Do not try to put it out yourself,” which we had to ignore. We live 10 miles from the nearest small town and rely on a volunteer fire department. I can’t imagine what we would have lost if we followed that sound advice.
So, we threw on boots and winter coats and rushed outside. My family was nothing short of amazing. V. hooked up hoses in the dark and started spraying water near the barn. He then set up our daughter with a hose by the house. Our son grabbed the fire extinguisher and worked the fire around the house propane tank. I went over to another structure, which has another hydrant, and began tossing out buckets of water. We then gathered west of the house to stomp out fire heading toward a row of trees.
The constant wind kept the fire moving, but the grass was short. That meant we could just follow the fire line and stomp along the way.
The fire crew arrived with just a few feet of fire left and they helped survey the area in the dark, looking for embers that could spark back up. We were thankful to see them!
We came in the house, stunned, around midnight, showered and tried to sleep. The wee hours of the night included many trips to the window, hoping we hadn’t missed any sparks.
It was chilling to look at the burn pattern the next day. I don’t know how we managed to avoid damage to structures. I think it was a matter of minutes — 10 minutes later and the red barn could have been in trouble.
Now, we breathe deeply, replace fire extinguishers and hope spring comes early and greens up our farmyard.