Monday, May 20, 2013
Hot Time in the Old Town
Last Wednesday, an arsonist set nine fires in the woods around my community.
Local News Story, 2nd Day
Due to swift recognition of the perpetrator by firefighers and fast-action by local law enforcement, the suspected arsonist was arrested early the same day.
Suspect in Custody
Our fire department's Chief and I were first on scene and I ended up on the working end of a shovel for a while while the Chief managed the county-wide first response over the radio.
I don't think I'll ever forget the odd sense of bewilderment I felt as I looked over my shoulder from throwing dirt on flames to see a string of smoke columns erupt behind my back.
I thought, how is the fire over there? I heard our Assistant Chief yell through the smoke -- someone's driving down [the road] setting fires!
Spent the rest of the day and half the night in the staging area as on scene medic (my usual job) where I watched the guys for heat stress, handed out snacks and cold water. I heard it over and over from firefighters -- we're used to people making dumb mistakes and accidently setting the woods on fire -- no one could comprehend someone setting intentional fires.
I had one scary moment. I was dragging a hose, laying down a wet line. the Chief was at the truck running the pump, talking on the radio. I'm connected to him via the hose and I have a radio. I hear gunfire. I have flames at my feet and smoke in my face and I can't even see the fire truck behind me. I yell, "Someone's shooting at us!" I crouch down behind a burning tree. Nothing else happens. (Except, of course, the big freaking forest fire.) I stand back up and start the wet line again. More gunfire. Okay, a foot-wide burning pine tree is not enough of a hiding place for my fat self. I duck down again and decide I'm not moving until the Chief takes care of whoever is shooting at me. I hear him yell that it's lost ammunition.
The area is a local favorite target shooting spot. People leave behind live rounds by accident. Fire sets them off. Okay, I think and start the hose again. About five feet later it ocurrs to me, hold on, that still means bullets are flying around out here, but I decide to be Scarlet O'Hara and think about it tomorrow.
I can't wait for my vacation.