This morning, when I turned on TV news, the first thing I heard was that 100,000 acres and 1,000 homes have been burned in the Bastrop, Texas, area, which is not far from Austin. As I write this blog, more than 50 fires are blazing across various parts of Texas.
As any of you who live in Texas or have watched the news might know, Texas is suffering the worst drought in many, many years. And temperatures have been in the triple digits, without let-up, for more than two months. To put it succinctly, damn near everything in the great outdoors is cooked.
A few horrifying statistics. In the past year, more than 20,900 wild fires have burned 3.6 million acres of the Texas landscape. I’ve lost count of the total number of homes that have been lost to fire. And I’ve never had the count of the numbers of cattle, horses, and other animals that have been incinerated.
The fires in the Texas Panhandle just a year ago burned cattle alive in the pastures, not to mention the immolaton of huge fields of wheat. Besides being heartbreaking, it was an economic disaster for that part of the state.
Watch the video below of somewhere in Texas. It’s a tiny taste of the evil of wild fire.
I live in a rural area twelve miles from town. My home is located in a sub-division, but the sub-division itself is surrounded by pastureland and trees. ….. And right now, The grass is drier than un-buttered popcorn. It looks likes it would crunch under your feet if you walked out into it. The tree leaves have already turned brown and are starting to drop.
Nothing in the immediate vicinity is on fire at this moment, but you never know. All it takes is a careless smoker, a backfiring vehicle, some thoughtless fool defying the burn ban and getting rid of trash. Or an arsonist. Or just someone who’s insane. Or who knows what else?
Our backyard is only about 30 feet deep. That’s how close we are to a tinderbox.
So while watching this terrible news on TV this morning, I turned to my husband and said, “Given that we would have only minutes, not hours to escape, do you think we should make a list of things we should grab first if we have to run?”
To my total surprise, he said, “Maybe we should.”
The answer I expected from him was, “Nah, we’ll be okay. Don’t worry about it.”
The point is, if he’s that concerned, it’s time for me to be concerned, too. Since I’m away from the house a good part of the time at my real job, he would have to deal with it alone, so a list would be even more important.
In my head, I’m thinking, My God, where do I start?
So I said, “Well, I suppose my first priority would be to grab my computer and some of the stuff out of my office.”
Then I thought, “What stuff? How the hell do I prioritize 15 years of researching and writing and reading and trophies and prizes won and boxes of books? It’s all made of something a hungry fire loves–PAPER!
Then I started trying to think of what to take next that wouldn’t have to be packed and thought about and discussed, etc., etc. The proposition was so overwhelming, my feeble brain didn’t want to deal with it. I drew a blank.
He said, “We should think about some clothes to take,” which re-focused my attention. He was right, of course. In the event of a loss, someone like the Red Cross would feed us, because Texans and Americans are like that. But clothing us would be a different matter.
That’s the mode we’re in today. I’m off work from my real job, so I’m trying to figure out how to survive, if we had to, a situation that is 100% out of our control.
My husband and I already know about wildfires. A couple of years ago, one swept through dry pastures very near our home. Our whole area had to be evacuated and I spent a good part of one evening in a country church up the road eating pizza brought in by the Red Cross for everyone’s supper.
That fire totally destroyed 26 mobile homes in a sub-division not far from us. We were very lucky in that our house was not touched. I will never forget the grief and reactions of the people who lived in or owned those mobile homes when the firefighters came in and told them of their losses.
When we choose to live in a rural area to enjoy some privacy and the natural surroundings and all that country living offers us, and to escape the hubbub of town life, we often find ourselves faced with tradeoffs. And fire protection is one of them.
So all of the above brings me to my point today. How about you? If you were in the path of a moving inferno, after your kids and pets, what would you grab first to save?
It’s something to think about, isn’t it?