Monday, July 29, 2013

Fire on the Mountain

Monday July 29 2013

There are soooo many reasons I do not like summer, but if I list them all this will be a Whine-Fest blog entry. So I will only list one.


I've been here in Owyhee for 6 years now, and up until the last 2 years, fire never crossed my mind.

Then there was that summer day 2 years ago where lightning started a fire 4.5 miles away up on the sagebrush flats, while we were away at City of Rocks. Fortunately the gusting wind was blowing the other way, and the BLM fire crews were on it in a flash.

Last year, there was the night heavy smoke woke me up.

Now, anytime a blue thunderstorm cloud appears, instead of rejoicing (well - as long as I'm indoors watching, and not caught out in it!) in the few degrees of coolness it lends for a spell, an undercurrent of fear keeps that delight at bay. Wildfires are getting worse by the year out West, as it gets drier and drier.

Yesterday a cloud came over, giving blessed relief from the heat. But then the cloud turned blue and thunderstormy, rumbling loudly enough that even *I* heard the thunder. It dropped a little rain down here, and did its lightning and thundering in the Owyhee mountains.

I did not even SEE this smoke until this afternoon, but it was surely lightning that started it. It's 7 miles away, straight up our canyon. The BLM already knew about it, and was letting it burn… then later in the day they sent helicopters with buckets to it.

The only good thing about being in a drought is that it's been so dry, there's hardly any fuel to burn - stunted sagebrush and rabbitbrush, no cheat grass at all.

By evening it looked like most of the fire was out, though it's so hazy it's difficult to tell, even with binoculars. There's still a spiral of smoke (still, fortunately, no wind to speak of), and I might be seeing a layer of fire retardant on the hill.

I'm sure hoping that's the closest and biggest fire we'll have here this year.


  1. It burned 10 square miles north of Gooding yesterday. I big chunk of the east Bennett Hills got burned. The good news is that now we can drive there and park in the burned area without having to worry about starting a fire.

  2. Wildfires surely are one of the scariest things out West. I don't know how you deal with them but I'm sure you have a plan to evacuate if they get close enough. Stay safe.

  3. that scares the hell out of me. it's hard enough to worry about your own safety, but add in the animals, and omg!

  4. Scary indeed. We had a forest fire here many, many years ago..maybe 50? Yet I still remember the fear, just knowing that it might reach our property since we border the forest. Every time I smell wood smoke I worry.

    Hopefully the rains will come to your lands soon and the fear of fire will fade with the change in season. Wishing you well.

  5. i truly hope that is all for you, too. i'm terrified of wildfire, too. we don't have the timber you have to contend with, but a simple scrub fire here can burn quickly across pastures.

  6. My wife and I had stable business in Clayton CA. First year we had the 100 year flood, I waded across the bridge on Marsh Creek, it was sudmerged by the torrent. The horses were trapped. 1/2 dozen pinned against the rails of the pole barn. I climbed through the barn like a monkey. Water was raising rapidly. Horses traped. Released gate latches, ackward, never operated the gates when standing on top of them. The horses appeared frozen, not by the water temperature, but by thier instinct to except death. The horse at the end was still in flight mode. As the bay mare was released she reared up on her hind legs and belted our a winny of volume and strengh that I had not known a horse possesed. The life saving stampeded began has the herd, 15 head, moved to high ground. In aw, reeling from the sereal event my body was frezzing my mind was on fire.
    The next day, a couple boarders said I was hero. I said no just a poor guy that likes horses alive more then dead.
    Two years after we were forced to sell Mount Diablo caught fire. Horsed died in the barn I built
    God dammit