I burned leaves yesterday and I am proud to say, “NOTHING HAPPENED!” Phew! No drama! (Wait a minute, RATS! That means nothing for my blog! Bummer!) My projects usually produce some kind of fiasco. Then I remembered I definitely cannot say that about what happened a couple of years ago when a fire got away from me.
Let me back up and explain a few things. I live in a small town, and in the fall we rake our leaves into piles or into the gutter (as I did today) and burn them. Plus, my back yard is almost the size of a football field. Add to that the fact that the property boundaries on three sides are filled with stately elms and oaks. Of course, being a small town, less stately weed and grass also fills up the property line.
This incident happened, oh, let's say the fall of 06: I raked the leaves from the “STATELY” litter droppers into one gigantic pile. The diameter of which was about 10 feet. I was so clever! I raked leaves onto a tarp until it was overflowing, then drug the tarp to the burn spot in the middle of this field. I did this several times. When finished I covered this potential fire storm (key words) with the tarps to keep the offending leaves from blowing back to their assigned spot or from getting caught in a rain (which would render them to mush).
One cold, overcast, day I stuck my finger in my mouth, held it up in the air and deemed it a good day to burn. I readied my water hose (which I later found did not reach that far), my rake, and a broom. I removed the tarps and deftly triggered my fire starter “thingy” and ignited the southern edge of the leaf pile. Thinking I should start a backfire type burn, I went to the northern end and did the same thing. However, by that time I had a humongous conflagration and realized I had made a mistake (Duh! It;s me I'm talking about).
Even though it seemed a good idea, at the time, to have one large fire to monitor; I failed to realize that several smaller fires, set one at a time, would have been better. To my alarm the circumference of the fire seemed to grow quickly. No, not seemed….DID! The thatch under the grass was burning and the fire was rapidly heading for the north, east, and west property lines and those “STATELY” trees (not to mention my neighbor’s back yards and their “STUFF” Oh, and my house to the south).
I ran around like a mental patient (which I was quickly becoming) trying to beat out the spreading fire. It didn’t take me long to realize that I wasn’t going to be able to contain it. I ran to my neighbor’s house to the east (the one least likely to think me an idiot….and call me one to boot). Being a veteran of grass fires, she ran out with a broom and grabbed an old throw rug off the fence as we sprinted to my back yard. Between the two of us we circled the perimeter of the fire and BEAT back the flames. Before long there was no new thatch to feed the fire and it stopped. In the time it took us to contain the spread, the leaves had been consumed.
Both of us had a politically incorrect appearance because we looked like the white performers who used face black to do their stick. The neighbor’s husband and son came home and had a great deal of comments to make, to each other, to me, and to his wife (she was quite nice about it saying,"It could happen to anyone"). The neighbors to the west got their two cents in too. In fact I had several, so called, friends who enjoyed making sport of the 9th street "fire fiend" (Mannnn, am I racking up nick names or what? Fire Fiend, Betty Boop, , and Moon Mama ....oh, forgot, I haven't posted that one yet).
The reminder of this fiasco was evident for quite a while. One had to only to look at the blackened back yard to know just what had happened. And, thank God, this was before I had my cat, so she wasn’t endangered, this time.