Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Intrepid reporter -- until I ran from the scene

So the drama around here last Saturday was pretty dramatic; our part of the world seemed to burst into flames in every direction all at the same time. Dry, dry air and high, high winds combined to create a day just ripe for combustion. Pals from California or western Canada might laugh and say, "how quaint!" But fire fighters throughout the Washington D.C. area were working it all day long.

Well, I shock myself that I took these pictures: I am never on the scene when drama occurs, or if I am, the drama is occurring to me or to one of the urchins -- so photographing the historic events is usually the last thing on my mind.

tangent: When the sunny girl was born we had to borrow a disposable camera from the midwife who helped her into the world, because by the third child we were not so much about checking and re-checking the "Baby Being Born" hospital bag to make sure we had everything. So: camera -- yes; batteries -- not so much.

But I took the sunny girl and a pal to the movies, and we drove into smoky air that was thick enough that I turned on my headlights and the sunny girl reached for her inhaler. After I dropped the two girls off at the mega-cineplex-o-rama, I decided to check out the source of the smoke.

Plumes rose from a wooded area right behind my beloved Borders Books. I kept thinking, "How hard would it blow to be one of the stores that escaped the corporate bankruptcy axe, only to see one's entire inventory go up in flames?"

tangent: Pipe down, book lovers -- Borders is all right by me. Yes, yes -- we should all support our local independent booksellers. They support the new, the quirky, the overlooked. But you know what? So does my Borders. And I can tell you right now -- there ain't no independent booksellers in Prince William County, Virginia; if Borders goes, we are SOL. Virginians all know that stands for "Standards Of Learning."

OK, so the fire caused businesses up and down the suburban strip malls to evacuate, as it spread north and east through a large wooded area. These woods are bordered by things like a Home Depot, the Department of Motor Vehicles, Best Buy, and -- scary -- an animal hospital. All evacuated their customers (and patients).

As always, the firefighters walked forward to fight the blazes (and yes, I do mean blazes; these brush fires were everywhere) while everyone else fled. As I took these pictures I was shocked at how quickly I stopped needing the telephoto feature on my camera as the fire raced through the woods towards my vantage point; I kept thinking, I should not be here . . . I am where I should not be . . . this is really, really stupid . . . . I am not Christiane Amanpour -- or even Brenda Starr . . . . I need to go now . . . . And the firefighters geared up, and did what they had to do, and stopped my town from burning.


  1. Hi there,thanks for following my blog. Visiting your blog and start following. Love reading your posts and hope everything is okay now after the fire....Have a nice day.

  2. That's some scary stuff! I'm glad the firefighters were able to get it all under control.

    Back in the late 80's, we had a very hot and dry summer that caused lots of spontaneous brush fires, especially in the areas along the expressway. We were driving back home from a weekend in northern Michigan and the medians and shoulders along I75 were blazing. It was literally like driving through Hell.

  3. Woah. Scary. You were very brave to stay and take pictures. I would have run for the hills.