So around 4:00 pm yesterday I heard sirens ringing out from a group of emergency vehicles near my home. I figured that something bad must have happened and shrugged it off, figuring that an accident had occurred nearby but was irrelevant to my life. Soon, more sirens rang out, this time louder and closer. This time I said "Man, that sounds pretty close. Maybe I shood peek out the window to see what's going on." but again, I ignored the sirens and continued to write my lengthy reply to Joe Stevens on the Gravy Inquirer page (it has yet to be published). Soon a burst of sudden and urgent booms pounded their way through my door. I got up to open it and was greeted by the sight of my mother and younger brother who had just returned from the market. Before I could ask what all the ruckus was about my mother quickly alerted me that there was a brush fire and that our neighborhood needed to evacuate. I saw faintly gray smoke trails in the sky out the door yet I naively continued to wonder "Just how close is this fire? I peeked out the window of my living room:
A wall of flame had engulfed my neighbor's backyard fence and was closing in on our position.
An adrenaline rush kicked in and, after dropping a few S-bombs (keep in mind that I am a person who would never curse out loud), we rounded up our pets and loaded into our car. Thanks heavens we haven't traded in our van! After grabbing some important documents and only a few sentimental objects we jumped into our van and evacuated from our Cul-de-Sac. Ash rained down from the sky. As we pulled out from the driveway I took one last look at our house, fearing that this would be the last time I would ever see it again.
We pulled out from the neighborhood and drove around to see if we could catch a glimpse of how big the fire was. We saw two separate plumes of smoke. One was an enormous cauldron of black smoke that entered the sky in another part of the neighborhood. This was the source of the fire and luckily it was separated from my part of the neighborhood by a single road. However, thanks to the dry weather we've been having and thanks to the wind that was blowing that day, embers from the source of the fire crossed over the street and started a second fire just behind my neighbor's house.
I have provided a map of my cul-de-sac to help give you guys a better view of the situation.
We drove around for an hour, trying to see where the fire was spreading and if our cul-de-sac would survive. My heart was in my throat the whole time. I managed to keep my composure; my mind was prepared to except the grim fact that our house may be destroyed, yet my mother, despite her sensitive nature, showed the most amount of courage I have ever seen; she never had the urge to cry. Along the way I
prayed to begged the lord to save our neighborhood and thank him for ensuring that we all got out safely. We drove down a road and managed to catch a glimpse of the area behind our house. We didn't see any fire or smoke coming emitting from the area so we felt an immediate feeling of relief.
That didn't last long.
Again, thanks to the wind blowing that day, embers from the Second Fire (the one burning in my neighbor's backyard) blew to the east side of the cul-de-sac setting fire to another one of my neighbor's backyards. We drove by and actually saw fire shout out from the yard. At that point all previous feelings of contentment had been obliterated and the nightmare started once more. A pair of helicopters few in and started dropping in buckets of water but by that point I had lost all hope. We stopped by the nearby middle school and caught up with one of our neighbors. We decided that we were going to spend the night in the local La Quinta Inn so that we would have a place to stay while the fire was being fought. We gave our neighbor our cellphone number so that they would be able to contact us if anything notable happened while we were away.
We got to the Inn but surprisingly, despite the fact that several TV news crews had arrived to the scene, the local channels were not currently reporting the fire. It seems as though catching the latest episode of The Bachelor is more important to the network than the wrath of mother nature. We were about to head over to the local Target store to purchase supplies that we may need for our stay in the motel when my mother's cell phone rang. I knew that it was our neighbor calling, either to deliver some comforting news or to inform us that we would have to start our lives over.
Suddenly, it seemed as though this F*****-up world we live in was, in fact, capable of showing mercy.
The neighbor informed us that according to some Animal Control workers who entered the neighborhood, the fire had not damaged ANY of the buildings in our cul-de-sac.
Against all odds.
We all shared a moment of embrace; never before have I ever been so grateful in my life.
We spent the night in the Inn and were allowed to go back in the morning. I still suffered from anxiety, as I was worried whether the reports were true; if our neighborhood was in as good a condition as they said it was. I am one of those people who don't count their chickens until they hatch.
We arrived back into the cul-de-sac. Nearly every single lawn of the houses on the east side of the cul-de-sac were charred black. The front hedges in front of the house at the end of the cul-de-sac: gone. The trees behind my neighbor's fence: gone. Amazingly, no MIRACULOUSLY, none of the houses were touched by the flames. The fire we saw burning in the backyard earlier in the day was just one of our neighbor's trampoline on fire, their house was unscathed.
I have provided a map of the areas burned by the fire. Please take note of the boundaries of where the fire spread. You may notice that it appears as though some sort of higher power protected the circular area of the Cul-de-sac.
In the end, over 200 people were evacuated, 10 homes were destroyed (they were mostly mobile homes), and nobody died. One person was taken to the hospital due to smoke inhalation, though. The cause of the fire is still under investigation.
The strangest part of all this? There was a propane tank sitting in the backyard north of the one who's trampoline caught fire. Get this, the grass surrounding it was black as the ace of spades yet the tank itself was sitting in a circular patch of grass untouched by the flames. If that and all of the above doesn't prove that there is a God then I don't know what will.
I am thankful to be alive and well, resting back inside my home with my family. I send my condolences to those who lost their homes. I hope that their lives get better. I'd also like to thank the emergency services of Texas and the good lord himself. If it wasn't for them, well I wouldn't be here typing this post.
P.S. Did I mention that this all happened on my mother's birthday? Yeah, best worst birthday, ever!