Last Tuesday night, Josh and I decided to start working on my new garden. Now, where we wanted to move the garden to was at the edge of our yard in the back, where the field begins. Last year, before we moved in to our home in September, the people who lived here before us never hayed the field, so when we moved in the hay in the field was up to my waist if not a little higher. Over the winter it got packed down, so there was a good 3-4 feet of hay that was now packed down into about 6 inches on the ground... so in other words, it was thick!
Josh was going to remove a layer of sod with his skid steer from the new garden plot so we could prepare the dirt underneath for gardening. In order to make it a little easier, so he wouldn't have to push through the 6 inches of packed hay, we were going to burn at least the four corners of our garden so he could get into the ground a bit easier. We figured if we got the four corners done, he would know where to plow up the sod and it would give him a good start in each area.
So, on Tuesday evening, we decided to burn the four corners of the garden. It had rained that morning, and then it became rather warm throughout the day. It had been windy at times, but the wind seemed to die down before we wanted to burn the garden, and since we only wanted to burn a small section of each corner, we knew it wasn't going to take a long time at all. We prepared ourselves with rakes and we lit the fire. Now, I thought we were only going to light one corner and work on that first, but Josh lit my corner and then immediately walked over and lit another corner. Which, was just a little miscommunication on our part, but still, it wasn't going to be that big of a deal since it was just a small section after all.
Within about 60 seconds of lighting the fire, everything was going well. We were stomping out the fire along the edges and it wasn't going too fast to be out of control... and then, the wind picked up. A strong wind came along and Josh and I looked at each other and I said 'Um, this better stop, the fire is going really fast...' But our not so windy evening turned into a very windy evening after all. Once the wind started, it didn't stop. And the fire, got out of control.
Josh ran to get his skid steer to try to stop the fire as it was heading right for our neighbors land and I kept running back and forth trying to get the fire to stop with water, rakes, and stomping on it. Nothing worked. While Josh went to get his skid steer, I ran and grabbed my phone from Eli who was contently reading a book on it, and I called 911.
I couldn't even see the fire anymore, it was out of sight, all I saw was smoke. I grabbed both the kids and ran to the fork in our driveway to tell the firemen where to go when they got here. I could hear my husband driving the skid steer as fast as he could trying to stop the fire but I couldn't see him at all.
As I stood there with my kids, my stomach started hurting really bad. I am 17 weeks pregnant, and have pretty well been sick since week 8. Meaning, I haven't exercised since then either, so all the running I had just done was not exactly normal for me or baby. I could tell I was contracting, and I was coughing, either from being out of shape and my lungs were trying to deal with all the running, or from the small big of smoke I inhaled, I couldn't really tell which. And I was half crying. I was trying really REALLY hard not to cry... but I'm pregnant after all, stress just makes me cry... and I was scared.
As I was standing there, I heard something backfire. It didn't really sound like a big boom, just like a car backfiring. I turned around, knowing fully well that my husband was driving his skid steer in a fire, only to see a wall of flames behind our house. The wall of fire was almost as tall as the tree that bordered our field. I kept telling myself that the backfire I heard wasn't big enough for it to be my husbands skid steer exploding... but I wasn't really believing myself.
Soon, a firetruck arrived, and as they drove past a guy yelled out the window that there were more rigs coming... how many rigs? I had no idea, so I just stood there and waited. I turned around a couple of minutes later and my husband was walking up the driveway towards me. I don't think I was ever so thankful to see Josh! He told me that the flames got so high at one point (only for a couple of minutes, which is when I saw them) that he had parked his skid steer because it wasn't helping at all, and when he shut it off, it backfired. He also said that by the time he got the skid steer and drove it out to the fence that bordered our neighbors land, which he said was probably 2 minutes, the fire was already over the fence and well into our neighbors field. That's a long way people! The fire covered the distance of a good 3 or so acres in 2 minutes.
More rigs showed up... lots and lots of them! The kids thought this was pretty awesome and I was wondering if it was ever going to end! Josh took the kids back to the back of the house to watch the firemen and all their trucks. At this point I just knelt on the driveway, my stomach was killing me. No more trucks came after that, so I finally, slowly, walked back to the back of the house and sat down in the grass.
The boys watched the fire.
And they thought the firetrucks were pretty awesome.
And this was after they put out a good portion of the fire on our side of things.
We talked to the fire chief, and then to the DNR, and then just sat there helplessly and watched. At one point one of the smaller fire trucks got stuck, they just flat out sunk right into our field, so Josh drove his skid steer out there to try to help get it unstuck, but they were stuck all the way up to the bottom of their truck so they had to call in help to get them unstuck as Josh's skid steer wasn't big enough.
Not too long after that, a helicopter showed up. We didn't know what they were doing at first, they just sat in our neighbors field for 5 ish minutes and we were just praying we hadn't given our neighbors a heart attack or something like that. In reality though, it was a fire helicopter and they ended up getting water from our ponds and dumping it on the fire that had spread to our neighbors swampy brush land.
You can see the little dot in the sky, that's the helicopter. They only were there for about 45 minutes or so...
The firemen were there, mostly on our neighbors end, until well after 11PM. I went to bed first, probably around 10-10:30... I was exhausted and although I stopped contracting, I still hurt. Josh went to bed shortly after the last firemen left.
The next day, we went out to inspect the damages...
This is standing on the edge of our field, where everything started and looking out over the burnt land.
Gabriel walked in the ruts where the firetruck got stuck. It was literally up past his knees.
This is at the fence in the field that separates our lands and looking into what was burnt of our neighbors land.
This is looking back at our house from the fence line. The fire was started not too far from our house. This is how far the fire went in the two minutes it took for Josh to get his skid steer. Can you say fast moving?
The only thing we have to replace after all is said and done is these two railroad ties that hold up the fence at the corner of our properties (the fire effected three properties).
And this was the area, and further back that we can't see, that the helicopter was needed to put out the fire.
After all was done, we figured the fire burnt about 15 acres of just grass and brush. Much more then the few feet that we had planned on burning so we could dig up my garden. Thankfully, neither of our neighbors were mad. One, whom was an ex-firefighter, said he wished it had burnt more of his swampy brush land... and he also said he was really bummed that he was stuck in meetings at work and had to miss the 'show'.
Alas, it was an interesting experience. And stressful. And emotional. And scary.
Gabriel, and one of the firefighters, said that now I can have a super big garden since it burned so much :) I think not.