Thursday, July 16, 2009


It has been a tense couple of days out here in Red Rock Valley. A truck pulling a trailer south to Reno didn't realize he had a flat tire and ended up sparking two major fires. It doesn't take much when it's as dry as it is here. A lone worker here is doing some clean-up. I love our fire fighters!

This is what we lost. These old mature junipers don't come back after fire. What does come back is the highly combustible cheat grass. I took this picture last year. It used to be a popular spot for travelers to picnic. There's one tree now.
Ian had to go to Doyle to the post office this morning and I made him take the camera. He caught this image which I think speaks to the desolation of the event. We seem to have a wildfire a year here, but to lose these mature junipers is gut wrenching.
This is how the fire looked just after I called it in. They were confused by the fact that a fire south of us had been sited and didn't realize there was actually a second fire to the north. The dispatcher asked me what size the fire was - the size of a car? I said it's burning up the side of a mountain! That puff of black in the middle is a juniper. Every time a juniper was expunged, it cried out in a plume of black smoke.

I took this picture about ten minutes later. It felt like forever before crews were on the scene - lots of nail biting. But when they did come, they came with guns loaded. I have listened to the drone of fire planes and helicopters all day and I'm calling it tax dollars well spent. Did I mention that I love our firefighters??
These trucks belong to a North Tahoe unit and are parked by Fred and Gretel's house. They are packed for evacuation, but these guys intend that to see that they don't need to. Our fire guys make me proud to be an American. I was spinning on the west deck in the shade this morning, when a caravan of 10 white vans proceeded north across our valley floor. They were the Whalen stage II crew, moving in the take charge. You have no idea how good that made me feel.

If you click for big, you can see above the telephone pole one of the borate bombers going in for another pass. After lunch, they began to fly in at frequent intervals. They assisted the helicopters dropping water from Long Valley Creek.
This is the "other" fire and it is now threat-
ening the south end of our valley. Sometimes I think everything will be burned to a crisp and there will be nothing left to ignite.


Michelle at Boulderneigh said...

I can relate to your gut wrenching at the loss of those trees. Even here where they are so plentiful, it is painful to lose one near us to weather or human destruction. They take so long to grow, and just a moment to destroy....

vlb5757 said...

I saw on the news that there was a fire because of the flat tire but I had no idea how close it was to you. Summers must be very hard for you. I would be a wreck wondering where we would run to and what to grab at the last minute out the door. I so glad that you guys are doing well and the animals are safe. God Bless the firefighters!!

Life Looms Large said...

Wow - how scary! Hopefully the fires are out now. Fire fighters are really great, aren't they?

Thanks for photographing the fire. You really captured some of the feelings of what it's like.

Take care!


Theresa said...


I'm with you on this, summer fire season is the worst
and our firefighters out here in the west, some of the best.
Can that patch be seeded with something to avoid the cheat grass?
Nice that they brought out the water tankers and helicopters quickly. Later in fire season we have a problem here with resources, most are in CA working on one of the big burns there.
Hugs go out to you. I know how terribly scary it is.


Hilary said...

I swear I will stop whining and complaining about our tough winters in northeast NY.
It must be so frightening to be where you are and watch these fires.

Mim said...

Scary to be sandwiched between two fires. I love my sheep even more now that they have provided us with a large fire break around our property! Great pictures I have none yet and hope there will be no more good picture opportunitys in our neighborhood.

beadlizard said...

Poor junipers! They take forever to grow, too.

We always had our truck packed during fire season, and every year at the fireman's ball we all donated everything we could possibly afford.

The loggers were super careful about fires, and campers are pretty good, too, but Mother Nature and her lightning? She's a fan of smoke and flame... I've seen nights when over a hundred lightning fires started just in the area we could see from our farm.

How are your lungs feeling?

Kathy said...

I was watching the news about this, thinking of you, thinking of all of us out here in the West and our fire dangers.
I met Tina (A Blip On The Radar) via phone and computer when we had that Brins Fire headed our way up from Sedona a few years back. It just doesn't take much for things to escalate.
You're always welcome this way if you have to outrun one. We just had our first rain today! I'm just hoping it was enough to keep the Ponderosa Pines from becoming matches if someone starts a fire.

Leigh said...

Good grief. We don't have television so I rely on the internet for the news. I hate to hear about all the loss, but am glad that you are okay.