Fire Scare

Last week it was a bit windy, and we had one of those “Oh, crap!” adrenaline moments here on the ranch. A neighbor called to ask us about the column of smoke streaming out from behind our property. We have about 1400 acres of timber, and it is VERY dry this time of year. We haven’t had our normal amount of Fall rain, and everything outdoors is tinder dry. So we climbed into the car, took the cell phone with us, and went on back roads into the back of beyond at the end of one of the forks of our county road. From the landing (a “landing” is typically a flat spot where logging was done at some time in the past, where the logs are gathered from an entire 40-acre parcel) where it dumped us, we could see plenty of smoke billowing up, but it was three or four miles away from our location, and very localized. We couldn’t get a phone signal from the landing, so we took some photos and headed back to civilization to make sure the county fire patrol knew about it and were on top of it. It turned out to be a “permitted burn” of a slash pile. In other words, they had a burn permit from the county, and were burning slash (left-over limbs, etc., after someone logs an area) over on Flores Creek, which is at the bottom of the hill you can see in the photo below.
slash burn on Flores Creek
That hill is “Calf Mountain”, and Flores Creek is one of the watersheds coming off of it. Had it been an uncontrolled burn, there would likely have been helicopters buzzing around with water buckets trying to put it out, or airplanes — such as happened two years ago in a location only a couple of miles from there. We were alerted to that burn by the helicopters flying directly over our house at tree-top level.

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