Lisa Bondurant

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I spend my time raising kids, gathering eggs, cutting wood, scoping out trees for tapping, making syrup in the last days of winter, watching my garden NOT grow in the summer, writing, wishing that there were more hours on the clock for sleeping.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Fire on the Rim

   All night long winds had screamed at the mountain and hammered the tin roof like an unseen fist. The 80 foot red oaks that tower beside our house, whipped and groaned against the constant swirling of current.They would have to fight all night to keep their roots gripped firmly in the thin rocky soil. No soul rested well inside the house, fearful of our giants being tumbled to their death or to ours. With the morning light all trees were still standing, but still the wind ripped at our mountain top. The sky was brilliant blue though and the sun blazing bright. Like battleships, huge clouds were slipping past the eastern ridge just north of our mountain. I watched for a few minutes before realizing they were not clouds of frozen water vapor, but smoke clouds. A forest fire on Second Mountain raged just over the timbers edge.We called 911, they tell us they have been fighting since 2 a.m. The sky swimmers atop of Second Mountain are in threat of burning.
  We drive out into the valley. All local fire company are responding. They setup their command center at the Mennonite church. They stage a second command center at the Mt Olive church at the end of Cooper's Mt..
From out on the farmland the smoke is almost a white out.

Then the mountains are gone.

The wind blows so hard we are almost pushed off the road. 

We head back towards home certain the winds will keep the fire on the eastern side of the mountain.

We soon find that will not be the case. Fire has pushed against the wind, over the ridge line to the western side.
Darkness sweeps up the mountain and the true fire line is revealed. Neighbors drive up to see the view and report that the houses on Second Mountain have been evacuated and the area over the front side is being readied for evacuation. Fire is closing in on a neighbors turkey houses and crews are working to prevent houses nearby from burning.
The fire crews are busy, six major fires burn in the county. Switzer Dam directly to the north west of our mountain is burning as well.

The fire moves further down and the moon rises over Second Mountain

Fire burns down a ridge near houses beside us.

About two hours later the fire flares and drops down to the highway. State troopers race up 33 to close off the road. We can hear the fire crackling and timbers falling, but the fire crews light back fires along the highway and the fire grows huge then stalls. With luck the fire line will hold till morning.
 If it reaches the west side of Dry River, I think little would stop it!

In the morning.
The air is so thick with smoke.Sometimes the mountains slip behind this heavy white blanket and disappear.  The good news is the fire in front of us is mostly out, but on the other side of the mountain it still burns on. Fire fighters scaled down the steepest side of Second Mountain. I have climbed this hill as a teenager, you do not climb it by walking, instead you scramble and clime like a cat on a ladder. This is country better climbed by mountain goats then people. During the peak of the fire, tiny blue white lights of helmets could be seen dotted along this almost vertical mountain side, as flames leaped into solid walls before them
The news reports that Peak Mountain Road remains closed.

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