Hi Masshole Mommy readers! Chris here again with another guest post.
You may remember my last post, which was about the time I lost my virginity with my first fire. Now I am going to tell you about one of my scariest times as a fire fighter. One of the reasons is was the most terrifying was because this time I was a leader and had five younger guys looking to me for answers and to make decisions.
It started in the summer of 2003 and it was one of the worst times for wild land fires in the Midwest. There were millions and millions of acres of fires in some really hard to reach places.
The fire chief gave us the assignment of saving the power for three counties. On top of a nearby mountain there was a transformer building which was threatened to become overcome with fire and/or have trees fall on it. If that happened, it would knock out power for over 11 towns. My job was to get to the building & not let any fire come near it and keep from any trees from falling on it. The access road was blocked because so many trees had already fallen down from the fire, so we would have to walk up the mountain – which already was consumed with fire on two sides.
We put on our water back packs, which is basically just a big water gun which holds 15 gallons of water (Yes it was very heavy! Especially in the middle of day with the temperatures at about 95 degrees already and the fire probably added another 10 degrees on top of that). Since the transformer was at the top of the mountain, we just hiked straight up. It took us hours to reach the top, but once we got up there, we got busy cutting down trees that were near the building and making sure they fell away from the building.
Towards the end of the day we were supposed to have a truck come get us after they were done clearing the road. It turns out that crew got reassigned and we would have get out on our own because the access road had not been cleared after all and to make it worse, the mountain was consumed with fire on three sides by then. That meant that we would have to leave a different way than the way we came. So, after walking up the mountain and then fighting fire for hours all day, we would have to hike back down the mountain not knowing where to go. We were each carrying heavy tools, including axes, chain saws, hoes and our own survival packs.
We finally made it down the mountain after a nearby helicopter gave me directions. We ended up coming upon another access road and were able to hitch a ride with a passing fire truck.
The scary part was that the younger fire fighters were looking for me to lead them down the mountain. Yes, I had a map, but I am horrible at directions. It’s so bad that if I don’t come back in 30 minutes from walking the dog, Masshole Mommy will send one of the boys to look for me. It’s so bad that I only go out to lunch at work if I can see my building from the eatery. Trust me when I say that I was mighty proud of myself when I finally got us back to camp (even though we did get lost a few times).
Until Next Time,