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.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Still Burning

The Rawley Springs/Peak Mountain Road Fire
from road 613
The mountains seem to be burning in all directions. The air burns also, with every breath you feel the smoke scratching at your lungs and making your eyes water and throats are sore. It is said that the "smoke eaters" that fight the fires, inhale so much smoke that it is like smoking 3 packs of cigarette's in a day. Prolonged exposure also slows the mind, as the body absorbs more gases and less oxygen. Add to this the extreme work the wild land fire fighters are doing, well you have to wonder how they do it! We wonder, as we stand back at a safe distance watching the forest burn and complaining of the smoke. We wonder until we remember that hundreds of women and men are standing at the foot of that monster in the distance, demanding it retreat.
Over 2100 acres are burning and the fire commanders are telling the news that this is still a wild untamed fire. No containment, they will put all effort into just saving homes and structures. Fire crews from at least 3 states are fighting and 2 hotshot crews from Tennessee and North Carolina. Hotshots are the most highly trained ground crews, that fight the most dangerous areas of a fire's front line. The testing to be a hotshot is hard and the training harder. I had tested to be on a hotshot crew 10 years ago and made the crew. That was as far as my fire fighting career went. I look out at the smoke columns now and feel old just thinking about it!
The next level would be smoke jumpers.

Rawley Springs Fire
Buffalo Road  (ie War Creek Road)
The cows don't seem to mind the smoke.

Most of the roads that go back towards the mountain have been closed.
Scorched earth beside highway 33 west

Heading back towards our mountain, we can see another column of smoke and are unsure where it is coming from.

Late in the evening, my daughter and  I head to the woods to gather the sap that could not be gathered during the wind storm. The smell of smoke is stronger, fresher and I can't find a source. The night is very dark and snow begins to fall then turns to a sprinkle of rain. It is a hopeful sign for the fire crews. I look towards the North West and see a orange glow on the clouds above the mountains, where there has not been a fire.  I watch into the night as I keep the sap cooking. The glow in the clouds has moved to the ground, just around the ridge across the river from us. A short time later rows of forestry fire truck start coming out from the direction of the fire. We think they are forced to leave as the fire is sweeping around the ridge, threatening to cut off their only way out
On Second Mountain small spots of fire still shine where the old fire had been. The duff could burn for weeks, hidden beneath the earth and in old stumps.
 In the morning, when I go out to get wood to restart fires for cooking sap, I can now see fire where the glow had been.

Day break & new fire visable north west of the Rawley Springs Fire.

Within a few minutes the fire grows bigger.    

                        This fire moves with the direction of the wind and is higher in the trees.
                        Houses are directly in it's path. The rain from the night before gave little help to the fighters.
                                                         We will watch this one closely!

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