Saturday, July 11, 2015

Hot, Dry, and Fire!!

This summer has been much dryer than last, and we've had record high temperatures for much of the month of June and early July.

Teri and I were enjoying lunch at our favorite Mexican food restaurant on July 5th when we heard a big commotion out on the patio. We stepped outside to see smoke pouring off of the adjacent mountainside and down into the town of Bayview. Bayview is immediately adjacent to Farragut State Park, so we headed home to see what they needed us to do.

View from South Road in Farragut State Park
It was a dry windy day and there was concern that the fire might blow down into the park. Park staff decided to evacuate the two large campgrounds on the east side of the park nearest the fire. I put the trailer hitch back on the truck and we did some packing up just in case we had to make a run for it. 

Taken from a boat on Lake Pend Oreille
Since this area has been under a fire watch for some time, there are a lot of firefighting resources staged locally. Tanker planes, helicopters, fire boats and Hotshot crews were brought into the area within hours and the fight was on. The entire north side of the park is being utilized for the fire camp, with the radio-controlled airplane field used as a staging area for helicopters. All told there are about 400 people here fighting this fire.
Dropping Retardant
In the first couple days of the fire we volunteers were assigned to man checkpoints to let emergency personnel through but turn back the sight-seers. Teri and I worked the 1 a.m. till 4 a.m. shift that first night, and it was eerie to see the fire burning on the mountainside, with occasional flare-ups as large trees would ignite. It was also strange to see how many folks drove down in the wee hours of the morning "just to see what was going on...".

Overall the fire has burned 1300 acres and destroyed six homes. They have a good fire-line around the fire and the weather has cooled some. We've had a light drizzle today, so we all feel like we've turned the corner. The campgrounds re-opened yesterday and we are back to our normal program schedule. 

We are all looking forward to a return to normal, and hope that this is the end of our fire experience for the summer!!



  1. Fire experience is not something I'd want to add to my resume. Good luck. I hope they can put it out.

  2. While at Wichita Mountains NWR the fire came uncomfortably close to the Refuge offices and volunteer campground. We also hitched up getting ready to evacuate. Thank God the wind shifted at the last minute and the Refuge village historic homes were saved.

  3. Been wondering about you guys and all the fires going on out west. We had a few hazy days back here last week that the newscasters were saying was from the fires in Canada! Glad it all worked out and you didn't have to leave in a hurry! Wish we could share some of the rain we have been getting with the western forests. We got 5 inches yesterday! Crazy! Stay safe!