Sunday, August 8, 2010

Fire at Razzberry Corner

My worst nightmare has always been a fire in the woods. It came true Friday night - there was a fire in the woods!!

Let me back up and start at the beginning....  Thursday afternoon a HUGE thunderstorm hit our area.  It poured, rain coming down in sheets sideways.  The sky turned black in the middle of the afternoon.  The wind picked up, gusting in all directions at once.  Two thunder cells collided, causing a lot of wind and rain, lightening and thunder.  Many places were flooded from all the gushing water on the ground.  Trees starting falling left and right.  And power lines came down. 

Over a hundred thousand people lost power Thursday night in this area.  Our entire area had no power.  When we don't have power we don't have water, either, as we are on a well system.  We also lost phones.  Friday night rolls around, the electric company has been working around the clock fixing trees and power lines in our county. 

It is so very dark here at night when there's no power.  The woods are sheer blackness.  On Friday night at 11pm our power is suddenly turned back on.  We were sleeping, but got up, started the dishwasher and clothes washer.  We checked around the inside of the house, everything seemed fine.  An hour later the power goes off again.  Sometimes this happens when crews are working on power in the area, they turn it on and off several times before getting it going again.  We figured it would come back on overnight, and we went back to sleep. 

Saturday morning, still no power.  Hmmm... Wonder what happened?  Saturday morning we drive down the street, see everyone else has power but us.  We decide to climb through the jungle of woods to follow the power and phone lines that go from our house to the main road. 

Here's the phone line, running from our house into the woods.  You can see it right in the center of this picture.

Whoops - here the phone line goes through a tree branch!  Careful!
We continued following the electric and phone lines to our first telephone pole in the woods.  The pole has a transformer at the top.

Directly after that pole is where the problems were found. This picture shows the pole on the right, and power and phone lines are running straight down to the ground from the pole. We cannot see through the jungle what's down below, so we venture closer.

This picture is tough to understand without seeing it firsthand.  The power lines are running from the upper left down into the jungle.  And that dark line running through the left portion of the picture is a dangling power line.

We continue to move on through the jungle.

Then we come to this, and suddenly we are very afraid.  the power line is on the left.  On the right is a smoldering tree branch.

The tree branch was still warm from the fire.  It must have happened Friday night when the electric was turned back on for the neighborhood.  It appears lightening struck a large tree, breaking off branches.  The power lines were knocked down to the ground, but not broken, by tree branches, causing the lines to start arcing when the power was turned on.  Then the fire occurred, and the power went out again. 

When damage to power lines occurs, intense arcing and power outages usually result. The highly visible, bright arcing from a damaged power line is often referred to as a 'power flash'.  If we were looking outside at the time, we would have seen all this going on.

Another smoldering tree branch.

I cannot believe that all the brush, vines, and grasses didn't catch on fire.  I can only assume it was all still wet from the massive rains on Thursday.  Thank goodness.  But, let me say, nothing was even a little wet when I found this fire damage on Saturday morning.  The woods all were very dry. 

The woods here are very close to our house.  We are very lucky a major fire didn't break out.

When I look at this I just cannot believe the tree limb burnt, but all the leaves and other kindling on top was not set ablaze.

Here is the tree that was struck by lightening during the storm, causing the top to break off.

Now we are on the other side of the broken tree branch and fire area.  the power line runs through the trees and jungle to the next pole.

Needless to say, after feeling the warm tree limbs smoldering, I called the emergency number for the power company.  In no time flat we had three crews of electric company men out here.  They worked here all day yesterday.  They trimmed the trees in the area of the downed branches and ran new power lines to the house.  They were hard workers and worked efficiently.  I assisted by moving branches and limbs out of the way after they were cut down.  They took their trucks down into the deep and hilly woods.  I was concerned they may never get out of there! 

After the work was done last night, the electric company guys enjoyed the farm views - they saw the mama and spotted baby deer that have made a home in our backyard.  They looked at our pile of deer antlers that we've found scattered in the woods.  They checked out the chickens and guineas - many of them didn't seem to know what guineas were.  They thought it was interesting to see how friendly the chickens are.  They all wanted to touch Leggy's monster, rubbery comb when I was holding him.  They all smiled at the baby chicks.  Farm animals even make the biggest, toughest guys smile.       

The power company is supposed to come back to clear the woods around the power lines so this doesn't happen again.  That's a different crew, the guys here today were the emergency linemen.  These linemen were actually not even from this area, they were from Delaware.  They were called here to assist our local power company.  Thank you!

Hopefully that's the last fire I ever almost see! 


Farm Girl said...

I am so glad nothing happened that could have happened. That is my greatest fear too. We just had a a massive fire across the road two weeks ago and all last week there was a crew out in front making fire breaks. I loved that the men liked your animals. That is so nice. So glad you are okay.

Julia said...

Goodness. I am glad that nothing worse happened with the fire on that limb. We had a limb rip down our phone lines earlier this year. Trees - Love them and cant do without them but hope they don't cause trouble...

Gail said...

Yes, someone was watching over you.

AJ-OAKS said...

Holy Cow!!!!! Talk about scary! I am so happy that the fire didn't breakout and spread. Thank goodness for the rain. And you were so smart for tracking it down. WOW!!!
I believe the Gaurdian Angels of your place were watching out. They were not going to let the fire get out of control and do damage to your house, you or any of the animals.
We are on well water too, so no power, no water. Thankfully we have a 2000 gallon holding tank that we can get water from to flush toilets and water all the animals.

Toni aka irishlas said...

Wow! Glad it wasn't any worse than it was. Glad you and all the critters are okay.

Leigh said...

Lynn, that is so scary. I'm so glad it wasn't worse and didn't spread. Whew. Thank heaven for guardian angels.

Lilla said...

Wow, that IS scary! So glad the fire didn't spread and you and your family are safe. A house fire is one of my biggest fears too.

Too bad you didn't get a picture of the lineman petting Leggy's comb...that would have been priceless!

Razzberry Corner said...

Farm Girl - I would have been so scared if there was a fire across the road and a crew was making fire breaks! I would have been out there with a hose wetting down my property!

I would have been terrified if I knew our fire was happening when it was actually happening. With it being electrical, I don't know what we could have done, other than call the fire dept and wet down the house with the hose hoping the fire doesn't spread to the house!

Julia - Yes, Randy loves his trees. Our house phone has continually been down since we moved here because of trees. The phone line runs lower than the power line, so I guess it get knocked out more often (every few months). What would we do without cell phones??

Gail - You are right!!! :)

Cindy - We need to get a water tank like you. We had been discussing it recently, but didn't think we'd need it so soon! We filled all our chicken waterers down the street at the neighbors, and filled coolers so we had water for use around the house.

Toni - I was worried about the outside cat, Jerry, thinking maybe all the activity scared him away. But he came right up for dinner after the linemen left and even though all the trees and shrubbery were missing from in front of our house. He acted like nothing was different.

Leigh - I agree! It still amazes me to think that all those dried grasses didn't catch. The grasses were on top of the burning logs.

Lilla - I have actually have had nightmares about the woods on fire and all the wild animals being burnt and killed. It would be so very sad to see all the wildlife and nature that we've worked so hard to preserve be killed in an instant.

Wouldn't that have been cool to get a pic of the linemen with Leggy?!! I didn't feel confortable taking pics of them, so I didn't take any pics of them or their trucks, which were so very huge. It was so very neat to see them way up in the bucket cutting down trees with a chainsaw that was extended like 3 feet out - there were so many picture opportunities! Oh well!


Terry said...

Wow, that's scary!
Thanks for visiting my blog, and it was fun to find your blog. Although we've lived in Colorado since the early 70's, my husband and I went to high school on the eastern shore of Maryland, and we both went to the University of Maryland. I didn't know there was that much open country left in your area. I look forward to stopping by your blog often.

Robin said...


jalynn01 said...

Thank God everything worked out ok. That is a scarey story for sure. Glad the guys got a kick out of your chickens and peeps. funny as you say what melts a tough guys heart.

CeeCee said...

How did I miss commenting on this post? I was sure I did.
Wow, scary stuff. When we went nearly 2 years w/o much rain, the smell of smoke was terrifying. We have no fire hydrants and if a fire licked at our house, we'd just have to watch it burn.
I'm so glad the rains killed off your fire before it really got going!