Wildfire

An eerie silence descended upon the acrid night air. Lori’s eyes burned as she stood on the porch staring at the crest of the distant hill, her heart pounding. Waiting.

And then it was there. Two hundred foot flames shooting into the sky over the summit followed by a roar like a fast approaching freight train.

“Rob, it’s time,” she yelled.

Rob appeared with a half-eaten sandwich in his hands. “You okay?”

“Yeah. I’ll start hosing down the house. Go. The guys are expecting you.”

“Love ya,” he whispered before racing off to do battle with the advancing wildfire.

***

I wrote this in response to Charli Mills’ August 3, 2017 Flash Fiction Challenge. In 99 words (no more, no less) use sound to create a story. And as always, she suggests we go where the prompt leads us.

I live in the province of British Columbia (B.C.) in Canada and it is burning. A blanket of thick smoke, like murky fog, has spread beyond our borders to our neighbouring province of Alberta and our American neighbour Washington State. The smoke from the interior has also spread to my community, here on the island. It is fire season. I’m sure this province is not the only one experiencing wildfires. But for now, officials have said this is B.C.’s worst fire season in almost six decades with 884 fires and about 588,000 hectares destroyed to date.

My short story this week is a small tribute to the thousands of men and women both locally and from around the world who have generously donated time, effort and funds to fight the fires, protect lives and homes, shelter the evacuees and help them rebuild in the morrow.

***Update***

According to a  Times Colonist article dated December 23, 2017, the 2017 BC Wildfire season statistics are:
  • 1,351 fires in total
  • over 3 million acres scorched
  • 65,000 people displaced
  • 509 structures destroyed, 229 of which were homes *
  • over $560 million dollars spent to date to fight the fires
  • unmeasurable are the financial costs to farmers, forestry and tourism industry along with the personal costs of all the lives affected by the 2017 inferno.

* This statistic was reported by a Vancouver Sun newspaper article dated September 20, 2017.

23 thoughts on “Wildfire

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  1. So many resources go into battling fires, and so many human lives on the line. Your flash captures the balance between protecting one’s own property and joining the community to fight the bigger fires. It reminds me of a story when north Idaho was so ravaged, a team of men from a small town had left to fight another fire when their town became threatened. The sheriff called for emergency help and was told there was no one left to answer the call. The men from that town returned, followed by others who joined in. The sheriff himself fought along with the volunteers and he lost his own home. It’s so hard, but stay indoors, and get an air filter if you can. Beautiful, heart-felt flash for your country, Kate.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. What a great piece of flash. I feel for the volunteers who race off to fight fires elsewhere when their own homes are also in jeopardy. You have told this with understanding and compassion. I appreciate the information you have added to provide background to your story. What a lot of fires. Fires are a problem here in Australia too. Many homes have been lost through fire during winter months, but these are nothing like the bushfires of summer. What frustrates me most about the fires is that so many of them have been senselessly lit by firebugs, destroying people’s homes and livelihoods, as well as the environment with their acts of stupidity. Some of the fires here have even been lit by volunteer fire fighters who expressed a fascination with fire. I wish they could be fascinated by safe fires.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Norah, I couldn’t agree with you more. Statistics as of noon today: since April of this year, there have been 928 fires and just over 500 of them have been confirmed to be naturally caused while another 364 were human caused. We had one man fined $575 Canadian a couple of weeks ago for throwing out the cigarette butt from his car window. The cop was in the vehicle right behind him and pulled him over – charging him under the wildfire act. It made front page news … It is unfortunate that we can’t catch them all. Thank you for your feedback on my flash. As always, I appreciate it.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. What a huge number of fires! To think so many are deliberately (or carelessly – which is almost the same thing – shows lack of responsibility for actions) lit. $575 seems a meagre compensation for the damage that may have been caused.

        Liked by 1 person

    2. The same thing happens here in California. It’s hard to understand why a firefighter, of all people, would start a fire, knowing the risk to both property and people. When I watch the videos of the firefighters at work I wonder why anyone but a hero would choose that work.

      Liked by 3 people

  3. What a wonderful story to show tribute to the many firefighters who are working tirelessly on the BC fires. I will never forget when I was in high school one year when we returned to school in September it was announced that one of our fellow classmen had become trapped and died in a BC wildfire when working as a firefighter the previous summer. They bring tragedy all round.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Amanda, I did not realize high school guys went to fight fires. Hearing the news must have been quite a shock at the time. I remember I was in University and two of my fellow classmates spent two summers fighting fires. They took high risk construction jobs in northern Ontario for the third year. It was all about earning big pay cheques compared to other summer jobs, so they didn’t have to work during the school term. Those who fight fires are truly exceptional people and dedicated to service. Sometimes, ‘thank you’ just doesn’t seem enough for what they do.

      Liked by 2 people

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