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Advisor

House fires/wildfires

Logged onto FB this morning to find out that some young folks we know had just experienced a devastating fire in their beautifully restored farmhouse.  Early enough to have been one of those where they were still asleep and luckily escaped alive, thanks to their local VFD.

We've seen a definite uptick in house fires lately, I guess due to people having to heat any way they can, with fuel prices so high this very cold winter.  Many space heaters are accidents waiting to happen, and some people do not know how to manage a live fire, maintain their chimney and dispose of hot ash cleanout from a woodstove safely. 

 Much of North Carolina was on fire last week. Several separate fires spread out well over 1000 acres. At least so far, the peat bogs haven't started the ground burning again, like it was a few years back. 

On top of this, we get phone calls every day now from the EMS back home, warning of "fire weather conditions."  One high school friend had posted to FB about a big fire that caused some home evacuations up there last week. 

I stepped out to go work in the office, and got wrapped up in smoke from Mike's boiler, which happens very rarely, when we get one odd wind vector that shifts the smoke plume downwards between the hosue and office.  Scared me silly, standing there in a cloud of smoke, until I realized which way the wind was coming from.  I was on the sidewalk, nto 20 feet from my door, but it was very disorienting.  Fire really provokes a fearful feeling. 

 

It's exceedingly dry here for this time of year....a lot of snow (for us) but very slack rainfall totals for the wintertime.    That followed a fall where trees appeared to be turning early, due to so many dying from a deep, late summer drought. 

It usually takes Mike about a month, I think, to lower the winter rain accumulation out of the lagoons once he starts pumping.  He told me yesterday he will get it done in a week to ten days this year.  Good news for fuel costs on the irrigation unit for het hog farm, but bad on the kids' income side, since you can't make a hay crop unless it rains enough. 

People have been calling for hay and the kids are slam out of any to sell, with really about only our bottom line, emergency supply still on hand.  Mike had two of another farmer's hired men show up last week, claimng their boss had arranged a hay purchase the week before.  We hadn't heard a word from him.  Kind of nervy, I think...one of those "customers"  you only see when he's desparate. 

 

Grass is greening up due to warm days and temperate nights, but still needs water to grow.  We had a rain forecast for yesterday, but it did not fall enough to dampen a sheet on the clothesline, much less soak anything.  Wind got up so loud in the night, it woke me several times, and I am sure is drying us out far more than what moisture we got yesterday. 

Yet,  there are people who will rake their leaves and light a match in these conditions, too.  It is a worrisome set of natural conditions, coupled with manmade complications.  Makes me glad that, although there are trees all around our house, the true woods are about 150 feet from our door. 

So, keeping our fingers crossed for some late calendar winter/early meteorological spring rains in the near forecast.  Active channel shows thunderstorms for today at our ZIP Code. 

 I've only seen two dry winters in 16 years here, and it is always the hardest set of conditions for us to manage, outside of that one 500-year hurricane in 1999.  Don't want a string of nor'easters, but a nice wet one right now wouldn't be half bad. 

Now's the weather out your way these days???

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8 Replies
Senior Contributor

Re: House fires/wildfires

We have also had a dry winter and exceptionally cold. Last summer was also dry with a very early harvest season. We had a hard rain last night but it seems like a long time since that has happened. The rains we have had earlier have been very light. I am concerned about another dry spring.

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Senior Contributor

Re: House fires/wildfires

I really hadn't thought of your part of the country as "fire" country.  I used to watch some of the fire maps out west.  We had a few days of real nice weather here.  Last night it snowed again.  And got cold.  It felt like March last week.  Roads were snow covered at 8 last night, snow plows hadn't been out, glad I wasn't the one driving.  Please stay safe and be on the lookout for problem areas. 

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Honored Advisor

Re: House fires/wildfires

It is finally raining a bit out now, but very windy.  Not much in terms of precip, but anything beats nothing right now.  The boys were supposed to finish my deck around the pool today, but, oh, well, we need the rain more!

Hadn't thought of us as "fire country" either, but it appears we are having a taste of the way it is in other places.  I guess the big difference between here and in the Midwest is that you burn grasslands, and it's forests most times here. 

People are sometimes losing stands of timber that can be a generation's worth of wealth, waiting to be harvested.  Also, a woodland fire can be harder to access and thus fight, and is often sustained by the accumulated fuel biomass for a long time.  One reason to keep a bit of distance between the house and the woods. 

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Senior Contributor

Re: House fires/wildfires

Being close to Ruby my weather is much the same.  We have lots of soupy manure in our lots that can't be moved.  When it's a little colder it's stiffer & able to be moved, but it's impossible now.  We've had snow, rain, wet snow again making DH grumpy.  Makes those big dairies with all the manure equip. & slurries look great. 

We did have quite a few fires this last fall.  Stupid people that start burning grass or leaves when the wind is strong.  Nothing like the chemical plant that burned on the highway.  All the neighbors there had to evacuate.

I'm REALLY looking forward to spring.  It's been a long winter & I'm looking at my gardening books & gettng anxious.

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Senior Contributor

Re: House fires/wildfires

We are not worried about a dry spring here.   In fact we are worried about the opposite.   It will make the 3rd wet spring in a row. 

 

We do not "burn the prarie anymore.    There are a very few  "natural prarie grass plots"   around that they burn off every year.   Most are owned by the liberal private colleges. 

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Advisor

Re: House fires/wildfires

Gardening books!!!  I took my Christmas gift certificate cards to Books-a-Million in town with me on Thursday, and had a ball browsing that section.  It was my first real excursion since holiday shopping , except for the hour or so I took after the doctor's visit to Greenville a while back..

Picked out four neat trade paperbacks, and have enough to buy maybe four or five more, so saved them for my next month's trip.  I've decided to make no more than one trip a month to Rocky Mount for Sam's, Target, and the bookstore this year, instead of going every other week.  It's only another thirty minutes past my normal errands loop, but it is just so hard to justify any extra miles with gas for my car at close to $3.50 now. 

It was so windy after our little spritz of rain Friday.  The boys finished my deck and the new steps between the office and the pool AREA. No need to rake, as everything was moving up against windbreaks at almost 40 mph!  I am thinking I will be using the kids' old trampoline frame for a giant composter for all these oak and maple leaves, as soon as I can get Mike to help me drag it to where I can reach it with the backyard hydrant hose. 

Read two of the books most of the way through last night, and will probably get started on another one today.  I can't take a chance on stirring up another upper respiratory thing by working outside in this wind...have still not shaken the most recent bronchitis bout completely. 

Mike will have the lagoons pulled to minimum in a few days, and then he'll start hauling the honeywagon to the neighbor's field, where he's offered to share some nutrient.  Good time to move it, while the ground will hold up under that neavy thing. 

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Senior Contributor

Re: House fires/wildfires

There were several CRP burns last year. We could see one from our house at night. It was over 8 miles away and 1/2 section on fire. Brought out many people checking it out, including the fire dept. Very windy conditions, so we thought the absentee landowners were not thinking when it was started.

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Senior Contributor

Re: House fires/wildfires

The only prairie grass burn I know of is near Princeton where there is a stretch of native grasses between the hard roads.  It's burned in the fall by volunteers who are manned with fire instinguishers & sporting fire proof coats & helmets.

It's going to be a wet, wet spring here too.  Right now DH is scurrying to haul manure while the field is still a little firm. 

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