Monday, August 9, 2010

Sharing a Slice of Life 'Fires'

Texasblu gave us the prompt fires.  As she says, there are many fire stories in my life, some which I will share this winter to warm you while it is snowing outside. 
The story which goes with this time of the year is when I was 5 years old.  We were renting a house in the country, while my mom applied for college and my dad was trying to get back to productive work after loosing his leg, a story I told about here.  There wasn't trash pick up in those days, but we had a 50 gallon metal can my dad had fashioned into an incinerator. (I see your minds; they are starting to put two and two together.) I need to further advise you of where our house was.  Pawnee is built in the Sandstone Hills Region of Oklahoma.  Our house was near the top of a hill.
With this background, I will continue.
This particular day was probably, according to my mom, not the best day for burning trash.  It was windy and dry.  She had started the fire, then went back inside for more paper to burn.  She was easily distracted and had not put the wire lid back on. When she came back out, the wind had picked up a piece of trash from the burning trash and had sent it into the field.  Everything was so dry that the fire was already spreading down towards our neighbor wildly.  My mother at first beat the fire out around the butane tank.  When she had that safe, she looked around and saw me wide eyed and as usual bare foot behind her.  She bent down and told me to stay near the house.  She could not take me because I didn't have on shoes.  She was going to run down to the neighbor's house, (which was not close) and use their phone to call the fire department.  I nodded and watched her take off at a run down the road.  I was scared and just looked at the fire spreading.  Then I had a sudden flash in my mind what I needed to do.  I took off running to the barn yard where everything was fenced in.  I proceeded to let the rabbits, cow, chickens, and anything that was caged up loose so they could escape if the fire got to the barn area.  Then I went down by the mail box to wait for my mom to come back. 
I was crying and I remember one of my dad's friends a black man, stopping by to talk with me and comfort me telling me that help was on the way to put the fire out.  I don't remember my mom coming back, but I have always remembered the kind hearted friend who stopped to comfort a little girl. 
Men from all over the area came to help put out the fire.  I can remember their faces which were black from the soot of fighting the fire.  They gathered off an on at our the house and I took them cold water to drink in my little red wagon.
The fire never came back towards the barn, but my dad told me he was glad I thought of turning the animals out for safety.  My mom always told me as she was half way to the neighbors. she realize she had left me with the fire and a butane tank in between. She could only push herself to run faster.  In the end, we were all thankful that only woods and fields were burnt, no houses or people.
The experience has always stayed with me.  To this day, I am still leery of burning bush or anything out in the fields. Smokey the Bear was my friend and I always followed his instructions.  Children today would do well to know him...
And with that, I wish you a "good day"!


  1. "Easily distracted"... is that where I got it? I can't imagine her leaving you behind - although, I guess things were different back then.

  2. Man, I didn't know that Grandma was the cause for that fire. You only told me about the animals. Maybe Grandma had a pyromaniac streak in her ;)

  3. Frances, I am amazed that you remember so much at the age of 5. And, because you do, this piece made a good factual story from a child's view. Darling photo of you.

  4. Great story. My father did a "controlled" burn of the back 40 one time. Only one time, eh??? Yep, got outta control, and the fire department was called. His snafu was the change of wind direction at dusk, took that fire and shot it past all the "willing"?? attendees with shovels (that would be my mother, brother and I). Scary stuff. I have my entry for this week's Share a Slice ready, not sure what day it will publish, stay tuned.

  5. What a brave, quick-thinking child you were let the animals out. That must have been a very, very frightening time. Thank goodness no one lost his/her life because of it.

  6. Scary story; I wouldn't even light matches as a child. You knew what was important and thought quickly.