Friday, June 30, 2006

Did I forget to mention the fire?

Yeah, just a little thing. Sheesh.

On Tuesday, was it Tuesday, I think it was Tuesday, while I was driving across Arizona in the blazing heat, mainly in the middle of nowhere, my cell phone service was sporadic at the very best. For most of the day we were without service, but folks could get through just long enough to leave messages on the phone and in slivers of satellite connection we were able to listen to them. So here's what my husband said, more or less, on a message that I managed to pick up in the early afternoon:

"Hi honey. The cats are fine. Al came over to chat this morning. I'm going to try to work some overtime tonight. Oh, and there's a forest fire over by the hospital, they're evacuating people. Love you. Bye."

I really didn't think much of it, as the hospital is now situated high on a plateau above the town in an area that's almost all chapparral and few trees between it and the town. Exciting, but probably not dangerous to the community.

Several hours later a thought suddenly popped into my head. Did he mean the new hospital or the old hospital? Because the old hospital is only a few blocks from our house and is tucked tightly in between heavily wooded mountainside to the south and west, and heavily built up housing to the north and east.

By this time we were headed towards the California border and more civilization (if you really truly consider Blythe or Quartzsite civilization) and we were getting reception about 70-80% of the time. So I tried to call my husband. No one answered.

I called my friend Shelly who did answer. And who told me that the fire, started by lightning, was in fact behind the old hospital, and it had made it's way down to lick at the fields of the junior high school that sits just kitty corner from our house, was working it's way up the ridge to the east (the one some of you might remember was on fire several years ago when we almost had to evacuate), and had jumped the road and was crawling across the fields to the southwest. Basically, it had us surrounded.

She also said that although it wasn't contained, she thought the dozens of fire trucks and five helicopters were keeping it from any buildings, including her daughter's brand new home which was just around the corner from our house.

That news both reassured me and made me more nervous at the same time.

I still couldn't get hold of my husband a half hour later so I called a friend of William's who lives about a block away and he went down to see if he could find Jeff at home or milling about with all the lookie loos stretched out along the street like a parade crowd. He called back a little while later to say Jeff's car was gone from in front of the house and that the fire was burning fences in the backyards of the houses closest to the starting point of the fire, just across the playing fields of the junior high school but also that he thought the fire was "out". Again, I was left reassured and worried.

Can you imagine driving across the desert, wondering what was going on back home, and being able to do absolutely nothing about it!? Well, it was loads of fun - NOT.

My hubby finally called me back the next morning. He'd been called in for an overtime. And went! Dozens of employees had been sent home to deal with evacuations and my husband, who's home was just twenty feet away across a teensy bit of asphalt, from where the evacuations stopped, went to work. Anyone got a good hammer I can use on his head!? He said he figured someone would call him if things got worse.

Even as late as yesterday, I could still hear the helicopters circling in the background when I talked to him on the phone. It's all out, thanks in part to some rain the other night, but there's still smoking spots and they're watching it carefully, as well as working on containing several other fires still burning in our county. Apparently the smoke is pretty bad but the weather has cooled and is helping.

Well, I'm not sure how I feel about it all. I missed all the excitement. Would it have been better to have been there to worry in person? Was it easier to not know until it was almost all over? It was certainly better not to have to breath all that smoke. (No, we got to breath the wonderful smell of cattle yards in 115 degree heat in Brawley instead - ACK, COUGH, GASP, GAG!)

I guess I'll fall back on the ol' "All's well that ends well."


Blogger Jaye said...

Better that you weren't home. You would have been crazed. DH probably did what he needed to do. Yes, all's well that ends well. Backup your computer, put your wedding pictures in your safety deposit box and hope for the best.

10:06 PM  

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