Thursday, August 26, 2010

Prairie Fire!

Traveling west from our home this past weekend, Danish Cowboy intended to make a quick check of the water situation for some of our cattle.  He was stopped a few miles from his destination, pulling over to the side of the road just before what he described as a small microburst touched down a couple of miles in front of him.  It ripped the road sign off of these posts and also laid over three power poles, setting off what turned out to be a small prairie fire.
The wind was strong that evening, but switched directions soon after the fire took off.  The wind shift coupled with two track trails around the pasture held the fire to approximately 60 or so acres, but the volunteer fire engines were called in for mop up duty.
My significant other is also a volunteer firefighter.  Yes, yes he is.  It's a Brockway residency requirement.  Us country folk, we stick together.  Whoever is closest to the fire hall when the calls start arriving on cell phones gets to drive the truck. 
The kids and I were called in for emergency back-up.  The dog had accompanied Danish Cowboy on this trip and was freaking out in the midst of the fire.  I had to go gather him in to a different pick-up. 
The fire was extinguished by the time I arrived, but there was still lots of activity given the fire engines performing mop up duty and the local electric co-op personnel fulfilling their duties to restore power.  I guess we stayed just a wee bit too long to spectate because the kids started dancing to the beat of their own drum.  "The fire dance," they exclaimed.  It's fun having kids who do weird things.  Doesn't make me feel so alone.
Prairie fires aren't always such laid back affairs.  It's been a high moisture season and terrain/wind were on our side.  Given drought conditions and steady, high velocity wind, prairie fires can race for miles across the Big Sky, much as they likely did before modern agriculture was a part of the picture.  We consider ourselves lucky that the only losses on this evening were a few fence posts and several acres of native grass.  There's no telling what next season will bring.

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