Early morning brush fire

Recently, I was driving to work, enjoying a robust pink sunrise, when I came across the scene in the top photo – flashing lights and a line of traffic. I thought there had been an accident, but when I drove past, I could see most of the vehicles were fire trucks. The air was acrid with smoke and I saw flames here and there. The land there is scrubby and dry and while there isn’t a lot of vegetation, what there is burns easily. I drove on to work.

When I returned home late that afternoon, I thought I’d check out the scene of the fire. I was surprised to still see smoke rising in several places, and nobody around. Cars on the highway drove by, barely slowing down. I got out and had a wander along the roadside and then ventured into the ashy ground, all smoky and warm (middle photo). What I didn’t see was any firefighters.

I wondered if I should call 911. Perhaps the fire was thought to be extinguished and had rekindled in the wind. Before I made up my mind, a large yellow truck emerged from a cutting down the road and began spraying water onto the area beside the highway, which was where I was standing (bottom photo). I decided it was a good time to return to my truck.

When I drove on, I saw a clutch of firefighters gathered along a dirt road branching off from the cutting. They were there the next morning, and the next afternoon as well, when I still saw smoke rising from the area. It was three days before they left and the smell of burning hung in the air for a good while afterwards.

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