Battling Wild Fires (Long post, lots of pics!) - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 8 Old 05-23-2008, 06:25 PM Thread Starter
Join Date: Apr 2008
Location: Alberta, Canada
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Battling Wild Fires (Long post, lots of pics!)

What an unbelievable array of emotions this past weekend had been...

I woke up Friday May 16 to my mom coming downstairs and telling me to help Andrew, her boyfriend, water the house's roof.
Me, in my still sleeping slumber, couldn't figure out why the heck we were supposed to water the house.
I got up and made my way outside, and as soon as I stepped out and peeked around the house, I could smell the smoke coming from the fire.

Andrew and Alex (my boyfriend) started to water down the house while myself, Emma, and my mom went to check on our neighbours, Evelyn and Richard (78 and 82 respectively) to make sure that they were okay as the fire started somewhere out by their place.
There were still there, though the cops and firefighter's were saying they should evacuate.
I climbed up on their house and started spraying the roof, while Emma did their second farmhouse across the lawn.

We stopped and visited for a bit, as I hadn't been to visit for a while. This couple and taken care of my dog for a while when he ran away a few years back, and it was quite cute as my dog's name was RJ, and that's what Evelyn used as a name for her husband, Richard Jr.

We noticed the smoke coming in stronger right as Evelyn's daughter came over, and ashes were starting to fly threw the air.
I went up one more time to water down the house to prevent any sparks from going straight to work.
We had one more visitor who had said that the fire crews were having some problems at the orginial site, so the three of us went over while Evelyn's daughter took the couple to her home by Edmonton to saftey.

Newbrook's firefighter's are all volunteer's and everybody knows everyone in a town this small, and I just happen to not mind that crew.
We helped them pull out hose and reel it in for a bit. The fire was cooking hot and it was already 23C above, making it very uncomfortable.

Once we weren't needed, we ran back to the house to make some sandwich's and drinks for the crew, and in that short half hour, the fire had spread over a kilometer and was getting more and more out of control heading south.
They had ended up losing a trailer on the orginial spot, of the fire, but had managed to keep it away from the main house.
Here's some pics from that scene:

Trailer that burnt down:

Firefighter crews:

One of the chopper's bringing water to dump on the trailer:

After we delivered their lunch and I took a few quick snaps (above) we sped back home as that's the way the fire was headed.

We swung back into Evelyn and Richard's place to make sure they left; you could hardly see their house threw the smoke.
The firefigher's ensured us that they had been evacuated and they were working on keeping the fire out of their yard.
They're an old couple now, and would have no chance of getting a new home should it burn down.
I was crossing my finger's that watering the house would at least help a bit.

So we head back for home, and stop at the end of the dirt road, amazed at the amount of smoke that's coming up from the trees.
You can hardly see anything at all.

On the dirt road a half mile from our house.
Tiff (FGR) you'll notice Robyn's field - all that black smoke was her house burning down. Unfortantely for her, she lost both her house and her barn within a matter of 15 minutes.

Again, her house going down. You can see the orange glow behind the smoke from the flames

This was all that was left:

Two of the bomber planes:

The guide plane for the bomber's:

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post #2 of 8 Old 05-23-2008, 06:26 PM Thread Starter
Join Date: Apr 2008
Location: Alberta, Canada
Posts: 6,672
• Horses: 12
So we head home, and go check on everybody at the house.

Andrew was off to bring my little brother to his friends place away from the fire.
I looked out over in the pasture, both the studs are grazing, Maiden and Roxy, Rythm and Brianna all lazing in the sun, not showing a hint of worry about all the commotion going on.
And I mean, really. I took these from our deck.

The planes were just coming over our top tree line, back and forth over the horses in the pasture as they were using our creek as a water supply to put out the fire.

None of us could sit and wait, so we drove back up the road to check out it was going, and were met with this:

The sun at 3pm in the afternoon:

Finally, we decided that it was probably best to go home and pack up what's most important just in case.
And as I was in my room throwing stuff in a bag, I kept telling myself "This is all for nothing." over and over again to keep my nerves under control.
I was worried about losing our home, and worried about setting the horses loose.
There's no way we could have been able to evacuate 17 horses in enough time with a small stock trailer.

So we got our cars packed up, and then took one more trip up the road to see how the fire was doing.
What a change. By now, the fire had spread over 10 kilometer's and had gotten way out of control.
The guide plane, four bomber planes, two helicopter's and the water trucks were doing all they could to keep it out of town as it would just fly threw there at an insane rate.

These were taken about a half mile from our house.

Bunny fighting it's instincts and hiding by the truck to escape the flames.

A water truck taking water from our neighbours dug out:

Now, the fire had broken out of the trees and was making a bee line for the highway:

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post #3 of 8 Old 05-23-2008, 06:27 PM Thread Starter
Join Date: Apr 2008
Location: Alberta, Canada
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So here, it jumped the highway and the cop told us we had to evacuate.
Should it spread, it would take about all of twenty minutes to completely destroy our entire property and house.
We went back and got the vehicles out to make the cop happy, as he waited for us to leave before he sped off to do highway control, then I went back.

I ran out, wrapped my arms around Khoda and gave a temporary ("This is all for nothing.") but emotional goodbye to Khoda as I set him free with the mares.
I wasn't going anywhere until absolutely necessary, because I did not want to set the horses loose on the road if I didn't have too.
Justice was okay - his pen is only 4 1/2 feet high with 2x6 and he would be able to get out no problem if the need be.

So after Khoda was loose (and he did wrap his head tightly around my shoulder's, as if giving me a huge re-assuring hug back - which of course only made me even more emotional), we drove back up to the end of the road to watch it.
Once it got close enough, I was zooming back to let the mares and everybody go and pick up the dogs.

Now, keep in mind that these trees are, on average, about 200 feet tall. Guess about how high those flames are going?

Fortantely for us, they managed to stop it before it got too far off the highway, so our house, and all of our horses are fine.
Evelyn and Richard were spared their home, and are now back where they belong.
Two homes were lost, and a barn.
It's been a week since the fire orgianlly started, and there are still helicopter's out there today dumping water on hot spots that keep flaring up, as the fire started burning underground.
It's mostly under control now, just not out.
We've had rain for two days so I'm sure that helped a bit.

I do have a give a huge hand to all of our volunteer firefighter's (though we did have to fire two crews from British Columbia to help) who put a ton of effort into keeping it at bay as most they could.
It was a ton of stressful work and long hours, with many of their own homes being right in the path of the fire.
Thank goodness the worst of it is over.

These were just some shots of some controlled grass fire that I thought turned out pretty cool.

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post #4 of 8 Old 05-23-2008, 06:46 PM
Join Date: Sep 2007
Location: Hatton Vale, QLD, Australia
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wow! drama drama drama ;) glad you and your family and horses are ok :)

there are some beautiful pics in there :)

"I whisper but my horse doesnt listen...So I yell!!...He still doesnt listen"

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post #5 of 8 Old 05-23-2008, 07:36 PM Thread Starter
Join Date: Apr 2008
Location: Alberta, Canada
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Drama is right! Had enough to last me a while, that's for sure...

The pictures are beautiful now that the immediate threat is over!
Thank you. :)

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post #6 of 8 Old 05-24-2008, 11:49 AM
Join Date: Feb 2008
Location: Sundre, Alberta, Canada
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So glad to hear that it's over (well under control at least)

You have no idea the stress that I was going thru, with all my family being there! And I mean ALL...George and GR were there as well!

Glad the house didn't burn down steff (dang was it close though, George brought me home a map of the whole fire...2000 acres) and really glad that you guys are all OK (and all the ponies)

BTW-George is back down today fighting fire and he will be stopping by the house. I gave him a bag of stuff to drop off!
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post #7 of 8 Old 05-24-2008, 10:52 PM
Join Date: Oct 2007
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Oh wow... I'm glad everything is under control now!! Great pictures, but that's very scary!!

The lovely images above provided by CVLC Photography
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post #8 of 8 Old 05-24-2008, 11:53 PM
Join Date: Sep 2007
Location: SE Kansas
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Fabulous photos of a terrible event. You did a wonderful job of telling the story. I hate any kind of out of control fires. So glad to hear everything and everyone is safe and sound now.

"Until one has loved an animal, part of one's soul remains unawakened..."
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