Well I have seen what I would call the perfect storm. A mix of fire, wind and consumable brush. It was about 6:45 in the evening. I had started some yard work and was burning brush and debris. There was no wind at all. I began to see a storm forming to the north over Cherokee County. I could see flashes of lightning but it was too far to hear the thunder. I continued with my yard work piling brush on the fire pit. A short time past and I heard the wind storm coming. It sounded like a semi-truck. It began as a straight-line gust of wind and was followed by a relentless swirling wind storm. The firemen, later told me that they were outside the fire hall when it came through and they estimated it was blowing at the least at 50 miles an hour.
The effects of the wind on the fire was immediate. The fire roared to twice its size and was blown swirling at a high rate of speed. The flames were pushed low across the ground. I had fires pop up all over the place in the dried leaves and debris. All manner of substance was being consumed so fast by the wind driven flames that the fires were intense. At first these pop-up fires were in an area of around ½ acre but all those fires were spreading fast. I had a rake and was working in all directions but it became apparent that I could not do much in that unrelenting wind. I ran to the house and told my daughter to call 911 and I went back out to fight the fire as best as I could. At that time the wind began blowing East at a high rate, straight toward my house. I rushed to close the garage doors to keep the embers out of there. The fire was roaring through a narrow pass about 8 feet from my house. The flames there were about 4 to 5 feet high but were laid over by the wind and consuming more and more ground. I was trying to stand near the pass to spray my house with water but the wind, smoke, heat and flying embers pushed me back. I saw the wind change directions and began to blow the fire northward through that narrow pass at the closest point to my house. The wind picked up velocity traveling through the narrow area and flames were responding with violence. It was only seconds away from the house catching up in the fire. It was then that the Piedmont Fire Department arrived. They drove the brush truck up near the house and went to work keeping those flames in the pass away from the house. Six or seven firemen began dragging hoses from the pumper truck and fighting fire in the most vulnerable areas first. They kept the fire away from my house! It was a close call.
Now let’s put a timeline on this. After it was all over I looked at my cell phone. I saw that Sally had texted me at 7:23PM. She was saying that the fire in the fire pit was spreading. I was already fighting it. I had run to the house to be sure Sally was calling 911. I picked up my cell and went back to fighting the fire. In just a matter of a few minutes the fire, driven by the wind, went from the fire pit to bearing down on my house. After the Fire Department arrived, I took a call from Tasha Blackerby, my neighbor, because I knew she was worried about us. That was 7:30. So from Sally’s text to the Tasha’s phone call was seven minutes!
It was apparent in just a few minutes after their arrival, the firemen would be able to get the fire under control. I am telling you, when you need these first responders and they roll in and jump out with the right equipment, the right training and 6 or 7 guys, it is a great feeling. Without them the outcome would have been very different. A great loss of property and possessions would have occurred, or worse. I would name them all if I could but I would leave some of them out that I can’t name. Thank you to the City of Piedmont Fire Department and God Bless all First Responders. You make society better for us all.
Have a Fire Safety Plan. A fire safety plan is available here on my website in a printable form.
Another great resource is fire safety and kids is: Fire Safety for Kids