Fire is an annual concern to those who chose a life of isolation; especially in environments with flammable habitats. Timber Butte is one of those places. From the first weeks of July to the first rain fall in September or October we are on a state of constant alert. In the fifteen years we’ve lived in this country we’ve encountered five threatening fires and have had to be our own first responder for three of them. Fire prevention is constantly on our minds. In 2014 Nancy and I had our closest call. The following is an expert from my latest book “Re:Form” and although it gives an account of facing the fire head on, it also delivers a deeper message concerning the power of “standing firm” in times of Crises.
Standing firm before the fire – prerequisite for victorious living in a time of crisis
Living in the mountains most of my life, I have developed a great respect for the damage and devastation fire can create. I’ve experienced numerous forest and grass fires and have discovered a person can never be too prepared. Living on our ranch on Timber Butte, I have learned the importance of looking ahead and preparing for the potential of a devastating fire season. Preventative maintenance takes thought and work. It requires vision; looking ahead for the sake of knowing what to do if disaster happens. Preventative maintenance requires both physical and mental preparation. It requires thinking through how one will respond or react mentally and emotionally before hardship is on the doorstep. You may never know for sure what you’ll do, but determining your options in advance will help. Will I run from the crisis or stand and fight?
We have lived at the base of Timber Butte for nearly ten years, and in that time Nancy and I have experienced five close calls with range fires. We have good reason to know how vulnerable we are. Living so far out in the country, it often takes a while for help to reach us. In the case of a lightning-caused fire, it can take up to an hour for professional firefighters to arrive on the scene.
Every spring, we disk a large swath around our buildings to form a thirty-foot firebreak. We keep flammables away from the structures and landscape with minimal combustible-type plants. We have a 500-gallon fire tank mounted on a trailer fitted with fire hoses and a pump. We have a backup generator in case of a power outage, which allows us to run our well, enabling us to refill the fire tank. We keep the fire trailer hooked to a ranch pickup all summer long, so no time would be lost scrambling to get things together when the inevitable happens. Nancy and I have had to become our own volunteer fire department. All of this preparation is good, but unless a person is fully committed to stand before an approaching wall of flames, all is for naught.
In 2014, a fire did sweep across our ranch. It started on our neighbor’s property on a hot, windy afternoon. I had just finished working for the day and had cleaned up for dinner when I looked out our kitchen window and saw a wall of flames jump the county road into a dry pasture on our north property line. The line of fire was heading straight toward the barn and house, being pushed and energized by wind. There was no time to think, only to act.
Nancy called 911 while I quickly ran to start the truck and gasoline-powered water pump. Luckily, the horses and cows had already come into the barn from the pasture. I hurriedly shut the gate behind them and opened the gates leading to the outside fields. Nancy jumped in the farm truck and headed toward the wall of fire. I jumped on the running board of the fire-tank trailer, hanging on for dear life. By the time we got to the firebreak that protected the barn, the flames had already arrived. From that time on we did the things we had planned, more on adrenalin than with strategic skill. The flames, at first, were intensely hot, and the smoke was so thick it was hard to breathe or see, but our efforts were working. Although there was a moment I felt like dropping the hose and running, I could see we were
winning. The flames started to subside just as a neighbor showed up to help. The fire parted around our buildings just as the water ran out. We took up shovels to continue the fight, watching the flames roar through our west pastures and over the distant hills. Forest Service firefighters and a volunteer fire department were a welcome sight when they arrived, but the real danger for us had passed.
Here’s my point. In this life and especially in the hour we now live, fires will come. The question is not will there be tribulation in this life, but rather will we be ready for it, and even more so, will we stand firm when it comes?
“Re:Form – The Decline of American Evangelicalism and a Path for the new Generation to Re:Form Their Faith” is available on Amazon Books, Kindle Books, or from Timber Butte Publishing for bulk purchases Timber Butte Publishing is a part of Timber Butte Homestead and can be contacted through this web site.