Smoke Gets in My Eyes

Tuesday, September 13, 2011
When I'm at a campfire, it seems like no matter where I sit, I always end up with smoke blowing straight in my face. Sometimes my life feels like that too. There's always smoke in my life, coming from somewhere.

Although we had lovely damp summer which kept wildfire danger at bay, we've now gone for several weeks without any significant rainfall. Recently, the extremely dry weather's been paired with high winds which is bad news Smokey bears for a small wildfire that's been smoldering on the far side of the national forest we live in. The fire that was 11,000 acres yesterday morning is now 60,000+ acres at the very smallest. A mandatory evacuation been instated for residential areas in the fire's path and wilderness crews have spend the last couple days evacuating Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness visitors out of the woods in effected areas.

The fire may be 30 miles off, but depending on how the wind blows, we've been getting pretty smoked out.  Yesterday at noon, the smoke masked the sun casting the world in an unnatural hazy orange glow.  As the wind howled past the windows, little bits of black ash blew through the window cracks onto the museum exhibits. The fire produced its own severe thunderstorm system yesterday afternoon, creating cloud to ground lightning and a downpour that dropped both raindrops and burnt pine needles in the area where Andy works.

As if that wasn't enough excitement, as I was preparing to leave work last night, Andy called.  There was a fire on the south side of our lake likely caused by a powerline downed in the mighty gusts we got yesterday. Andy headed off to respond and as I walked home, I saw a billow of rusty color smoke coming up from across the lake. An ambulance and wildland firefighting brush rig hurtled down the road and a leader plane (which directs the fire suppression aircraft) began circling in the air over the smoke. 

Back at the cabin there wasn't much I could do. I thought about firing up our wildland fire sprinkler system, but realized I didn't actually know how to prime the engine. (Oops.) Considering that we were directly north of the fire and the wind was blowing due south (with a good strip of open water between the fire and the cabin even if the winds did shift), I felt pretty calm about the whole thing. I called a friend and then got a lot of knitting done while waiting up for Andy who returned around 11:30.

It was, however, quite the air show.

(These aren't the best pictures. By the time I got my camera battery charged, it was growing dusky and the main plane action was farther away than my camera's zoom cared for.)

The wind seem a bit calmer today and the fire on the south side of the lake, which ended up being about 4-5 acres, is in heavy mop-up mode. (It's no longer a threat, but firefighters are still on the scene to take care of the smoldering bits.) Updates are few and far between for the farther off fire. Because of all wildfires in other parts of the country (ahem, Texas), firefighting resources are stretched rather thin, but hopefully today's cooler temperatures and higher humidity will throw the firefighters a bone.

Think rain!


  1. Ada, I am glad your house is okay and you are safe & sound...what a sight that must have been with the orange glow and the planes!!!


  2. woah! be careful! that's so frightening. wildfires are more frightening (to me, at least) than earthquakes.

  3. I was thinking about you when I read about the BWCA fire. Glad you are not being evacuated!

  4. I'm glad that you and your home is safe. I have heard that it is crazy dry in Northern MN right now.

  5. Yikes- really braving the elements! Must be a season change :). I always feel like campfire smoke catches up with me no matter where I move to. But the s'mores are worth it!

  6. Just hopped over. Happy to read that you are safe. So scary. Hugs

  7. Praying for rain... for both of us! Glad to hear that the fire didn't get too close.

  8. I am glad you are ok! Wildfires (and the smoke/ash that goes with them!) is something I CAN relate to living in LA!

  9. Hello, I'm a new follower of your blog from the wednesday blog hop :)
    Feel free to follow back if you want thanks.

  10. Holy cow, I'm so glad you guys are ok and untouched! Side note, I totally did not see the "read more" link and was like " that the end of the story?" Haa, I'm ok now, I hate suspense :)

  11. This is scary. Hope you guys are alright.

  12. I'm glad you guys are okay! I'm sending lots of rain thoughts your way!


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