Saturday afternoon was spent standing in a parking lot with my husband and many neighbors, watching a wildfire rampage across the hills behind the Cottage. It really was rather alarming, and I find that I am angry at the "kids" (no real way to tell ages, sometimes even genders) who have used the area for their hangout to smoke and do drugs as well as the general management of the area who refuses to take responsibility for their own property.
Yes, I am still steamed.
I was, however, awed, impressed, and very grateful for the skill and dedication of the fire crews that responded. As hours passed and I watched a pair of brush trucks that we were able to determine were parked directly in front of the cottage to maintain that edge of the burn area, I relaxed knowing that they and the many other crews were fearless in their determination to stop this blaze. The precision water drops from the helicopters and the bombers dropping bright orange-red retardant kept my attention as a well-choreographed but improvised dance. Toward the end a Chinook (the kind of helicopter with 2 large rotors that was designed to be able to haul a tank and then some) arrived with what we are guessing was a 500 gallon bucket. The ability they had to drop the water exactly where they wanted it was fascinating! The maneuvering and delicate balancing to react to the loss of the weight of the water was incredible. I was even impressed watching the mop-up crews work late into the night to ensure that no hot spots were left behind.
Today I look out over a half-charred hillside from my front porch and ache for the earth that was so suddenly laid bare. I realize that this area evolved as a burn and regenerate ecosystem, but it just doesn't feel right knowing that this fire was human-caused. Even my husband's cheerful observation that at least part of the tinder-dry brush has been consumed and will create a break for any other fires rings a little hollow right now.
So I thank the firefighters, the amazing pilots who work with them, and the earth herself that this was no worse than it was. But next time I could use a little less drama.