Sunday, February 20, 2011

the scariest day

It really began on Valentine's Day. A small wildfire burned up some brush and forest on a hill near our house. Nothing really to worry about.

But we had no rain. The wind was strong, the woods were dry. It was a high-risk fire situation.

On Saturday morning, Dad saw smoke across the road to the right of our house. A whole field was blazing. Fire fighters bulldozed a fire break and were able to save the barn on that property. One of the firefighters (who also is a member of our church and lives near us) stayed around to make sure the fire didn't jump the road.

It did.

Dad drove the truck down the hill to check on the blaze across the street. Two minutes later, he came roaring up the hill, shouted to us to bring the metal rakes and the hose and come to the backyard.

I had just gotten off the phone with my friend Polly in Germany. Mama was preparing a meal for our friends who just had a baby. We weren't ready for what we saw.

Two minutes later, we watched as the gray smoke in the distance turned into black smoke right in front of us.
Seconds after that, the fire was licking up our back fence.
Dad told me to get the little ones in the car, and anything we wanted to save in case the fire hit the house.
By the way, I was scared.
It's amazing how dear things become when you are threatened with losing them forever. We dove for journals, photo albums, scrapbooks, baby books. Titty and I took the portraits off the walls and rushed them out to the van. We got Elsie, our Great Pyr, into the van, and Caspian (the other Pyr) into the truck. Lily (our cat) disappeared until late that evening. Note: All three animals were scared, but they don't seem the worse for wear. They'll be alright.

For an hour, Marie, Peter, Luke, GoGo and Zuzu sat in the car and waited.
Mama and Leia brought things out of the house.

Titty and I raked piles of dead leaves away from the house to keep the fire from coming too close.

Mama called the family we were going to deliver the meal to and asked them to call all our friends and ask them to pray.

Three volunteer fire departments sent trucks to our house. We are so grateful to those brave men.

As the fire got under control, Mama continued to work in the kitchen. We stopped bringing things out to the car and just watched. Leia and I both grabbed cameras and took scores of pictures and videos.
Ash and smoke were in the air and we were all coughing. A few of the younger ones and Mama felt sick to their stomachs, but I just had a headache.

The build-up, all the adrenaline, the sudden scare, the rush to save the things I loved - it all bottled in me for almost an hour, and then I broke down on Mama. It felt good to cry. Everything was scary. So scary.

Titty and Daddy rescued the boys' football from the flames - a memento to remember the fire by:

With the firefighters there, we felt a little safer, but still there was a lot of tension in the air.

The fire came right up to our backyard - and then the wind changed providentially and swept it along the fence line - instead of up the yard to our back porch.
Titty and Luke watching the fire

Dad took the next four pictures on his iPhone:

 When the truck ran out of water, they used our little green hose to hook up to our pump :)

We first were aware of the fire around 1:45pm or so. By 3:30, it was pretty much under control. Then of course, I thought, "Oh, I'm supposed to play in piano competition in one hour." Somehow, it didn't seem very important anymore. But, now that things were under control, I was going play. Plus, we had a meal to deliver. :)

We arrived at the school where the competition was being held just five minutes before my scheduled time. Thankfully, our friends the Coulters were there (Gab competed in the winds section of the comp.) and had alerted the people running the event that I might be a little late. The ladies were so sweet and helped me get a hold of myself once we got there. 

I really don't remember playing, all I remember was that the piano was old, the keys were easy to play (it wasn't stiff) and it was slightly out of tune :) A few of my friends were there and I was too distracted to be nervous. That's a rare case for sure.

After I played, we stayed around and talked for a little while to my teacher, a fellow student who was also competing in my age group (he also goes to our church), the Coulters and another family we know. I didn't really feel like talking, my brain was not quite working right. The day had been to crazy.

We delivered the meal to our friends, visited with them for a little while, admired the baby and then headed home.

At home, the van had been unloaded, the fire fighters were wrapping up, the fire was under control. A fire break had been plowed around our property and the only things still burning were some trees and piles of leaves. Nothing serious. We watched a Little House episode and then we all went to bed.

I didn't sleep very well, my throat hurt from the smoke and ash and I kept waking up. My dreams were crazy and not fun.

This morning, we took the cameras out and took some pictures of the "burn zone":


 the fire break

the burned out fence

On the way to church, we were able to see where the fire jumped the road and how burned up our hill was:

I am so thankful our house was saved. I am so thankful no one was hurt. I am SO thankful that God used this *very* scary experience to show us what was truly important to us, and to help me put the competition in perspective.

For those of y'all interested, Andrew (that's our friend - he's an *amazing* pianist) won the competition for our age group!!!! (!!!!!!) I received Honorable Mention (technically second place). That was more than I'd expected and made my day :) I'm sure our teacher was pleased that both of us did well. I still can't believe Andrew beat out all the other competition. Hoo-rah for Mrs. P's students! :)

So that was our Saturday. It easily ranks as the scariest thing I have experienced to date. But God is good - He will use this for His glory, as a matter of fact, He already has.

Thank you to those of y'all who prayed for us during this. God heard your prayers - the wind truly did change directions very suddenly.

Things have settled down here. Our house smells like a campfire, so do our clothes and the truck and the van. It'll be days before everything smells normal again :) The yard is going to take a long time to get back to normal. I'm looking forward to exploring the "burn zone" to see what "treasures" we'll uncover  that have been hidden for who knows how long.

Well, it's getting kinda late. I'd better get a move on.

See y'all later,


  1. I know I already said this, but THANK GOD YOU ARE ALL OKAY!!!

    Congrats on the Honorable Mention. :) I can't believe you could even play after all the trauma. God sure answered our prayer that you wouldn't be nervous in a surprising manner.


  2. Wow, Jo, that's SCARY!! I'm glad you were all okay!! I know a family at my online school who lost everything in a house fire.:(

    Congratulations on the comp!!!! That's great!!!!! :D


  3. Oh, Jo! I'm so sorry you had to go through that. :(

    Strangely enough, at about 2:30pm (3:30pm your time) on Saturday, I was praying for you--that you'd do well in the competition, that you wouldn't be nervous, and that the LORD would give you peace in your heart. He used your competition as a reason for me to be praying for you right at the moment when you most needed our prayers! Isn't that amazing? I thought I was praying for your competition, but it turns out I was praying for something even more important. Our God is so great.

    Love in Him,
    Elizabeth Rose

  4. Don't worry, you didn't smell like smoke at the competition. And again, great job. It must've been terribly hard to play under all the pressure. BTW, when we told the ladies there what was going on at your house, you should've heard them. They kept saying how horrible it was and how they'd give you extra time to get there because of it. :P


  5. So glad you all are alright. I've known fires like that and I can still remember how scary it can be!

    Thank God for his loving protection!

  6. OHMYGOODNESS!! I'm so glad y'all are okay!!!!
    -Jocee <3

  7. Praise the Lord for His protection! He truly guards those whom He loves! Congratulations on doing well in your competition.
    Love in Christ,

  8. So glad your safe, dear! I was really getting wprried in the middle there.


  9. That is so scary!! I'm glad that all of you are safe, and God protected your house! :)


  10. Wow. That's a lot to have to go through in one day. I know what you mean, though, about how much stuff means to you when you're about to lose it. We had a tornado warning about two weeks back, and boy, I was so scared, and wanted to save everything. I also had a TON of other emotions going through me.
    On a happy note- I'm glad that y'all and you're house were saved from the fire, even if the football was damaged. Wow. Was that the only damaged on your property?

  11. Thank God that he was looking out for you guys! Such a hard thing to go through but you guys handled it so well...I'm proud of you.

    Congratulations on the competition! Super nice of the ladies to be so concerned for you...some people are just so nice:)

    Love you,

  12. Wow. That would be really scary. Thank the Lord, that your family and house were not damaged! :) There have been quite a few wildfires around this weekend, it seems. Good job on the comepetition! =)

  13. I'm so glad everything turned out alright! And congrats in winning second place!


  14. PRAISE THE LORD THAT YOU ARE ALL OKAY!!!!! We've had high fire alerts for a while, too, and as I write this, in our city there are two fires...not doing wonders for my cough. :(

  15. Jo -

    I'm so glad you are all safe and sound. What a traumatic experience. We're praying for you all - be safe!


    Mrs. FTR

  16. WOW, wow, and more wow. When I started reading the post, I immediately thought... "OH MY GOODNESS! NO!" I breathed a sigh of relief when I reached the conclusion. Thank God for saving your house! Where I live we've never been in danger of our house being caught in a forest fire, flooded, or some other natural disaster (other than a large tree falling on our house, which has never happened) - so I've never had that kind of experience personally... and I would rather not, ever! :)

    That's great you came in second! Congratulations! :)