We bought our house in 1984, but due to some technicalities with CHFA, the state mortgage people, we weren't allowed to have the "extra" land of the parcel included in the financing. By the time it came into our possession again (thanks to Stefan, the Nicest Ex in the World), it had been used as a not spectacularly successful hog raising operation and an amateur junkyard, which had included the dropping off of a totally broken down ex-housetrailer.

When we finally got geared up to do some heavy-duty land clearing, we decided the best way to be able to remove the scrap metal was to first burn out all that old wood.

This is perfectly legal here, if one follows rules and precautions. Which OF COURSE we did. We waited for a non-breezy day, and Nigel put in quite a bit of time mowing a big swath around the intended site, then hosing down the new fire-break for a couple of hours. You know, just to be on the safe side. Then we called in to activate our burn permit and thus alert the county fire department.

Nigel is an extremely careful person, and he figured the best thing to do, since there was a SLIGHT breeze, was to work from the farthest side FROM the wind, burning stuff by sections, so that IF the fire flared up, it wouldn't have any fuel on the ground to spread. The first few areas went perfectly smoothly. Of course. We had no way of knowing Fate was setting us up.

I didn't even have my camera outside at first. But when the old pig shed started burning, I noticed that the view from inside the doorway, where I could see the roof crackling merrily way, looked pretty cool. Of course by the time I got back, I had missed my chance to go in and take it by about forever:

Later, while looking at these pictures, one of my imaginative granddaughters pointed out that the shot above looked like a dragon. And it does! Here's another shot of the head and part of the wings!

The next shot shows some of the firebreak, there where the tin has been laid down. You can also see by how the fire and smoke go straight up that it wasn't windy. (I know, defensive much?)

The problem was that the little shed sort of concentrated the fire. It was the HEAT that jumped over and made stuff ignite on the other side of the firebreak. We all took turns spraying with the hose, trying to get the OTHER junked out trailer and stuff which was NOT on our property to NOT catch fire:

Didn't work. Note that crossbar thingie is now burning.

Shortly after that, when we were pulling the hose trying to get a little more reach, it broke in two places. One of which was not actually the HOSE, but the connection to the well house pump. Oops.

Who Ya Gonna Call? Correct, the Prowers County Volunteer/Rural Fire Department.

This was taken from the road, where I was standing to be able to direct our rescuers to the best ways in.

The copious amounts of black smoke are coming from a bunch of old tires someone was saving for a rainy day. Or something.

Lots of people in Lamar like to listen to the emergency channel on the scanner, and we found out Monday there was a rumor our house burned down. Probably because you could see the smoke from so far away.

They sent out three assorted trucks and half a dozen guys.

I took their pictures but since they were busy, didn't interrupt them to ask their names.

The worst of it got knocked down pretty fast.

This guy was working a hose running to one of the bigger trucks.

Remember that crossbar thingie?

Nigel felt bad about all the trouble, even though it wasn't his fault, and tried to help out as much as he could. (That's him in the orange Broncos cap.)

From what I could tell, the longest and most tedious part of firefighting is doing the serious soakdown to try to get all the little hidden hot spots cooled off.

At last, we were the proud owners of a steaming field of scorched metal bits.
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Pictures copyright Susan Crites 2004