Fire on the Mountain

September 1, 2009

They say smoke follows beautiful people. I guess I’m blessed, because according to the Fire Gods, they must really like me. Last year, around this time, a tire blow-out on I-84 sparked a wildfire that came right up to the back fence of the Gorge View Condos, where I was living at that time. Amazingly, that back fence, and the tireless work of the firefighter crews, kept that blaze from harming any structures.

I guess it’s hard to describe what’s going through your mind when there’s a fire, literally at your back door. You start thinking about what you can put in your car, and if you can even get your car up to your place anymore. And, of course, that’s just the tip of the iceberg. It’s a frustrating and helpless feeling. All of a sudden, tracking down the latest news reports becomes an important task, and you hope that the news answers more of your questions, rather than leaving you with more unanswered ones.

After the fire is out, it’s an amazing feeling to walk through the area that burned. You’re looking around at the view like it’s on another planet, like it’s not real. It’s black, sooty, dirty, and clean all at the same time. You wonder why some things are gone and why some things remained.

You truly appreciate people that you don’t even know, who are out there in full turn-out gear, trying to save your property.

So, of course, after that, where was my next move in life to?

That’s right, the sleepy town of Mosier.

And on Friday night, the sleepy town was more like “Incident command post central-fire truck-helicopter-news van -depot-staging area.” Trucks and emergency vehicles descended from the land and air from all over the state to fight our Microwave Fire.

And once again, people I didn’t know were showing up in full turn-out gear trying to save property.

Peny and I were downtown at the old gas station, after watching the fire activities from Huskey Road. As we were just about to head up the hill to gather up some things, some friends happened to stop by and talk. These folks were on their way to Portland, and for some reason, they had 4 bags of extra ice in their car. They figured since we didn’t have power, that we could use it.

We were about to put it in our car, when I took one more look at the 75 guys gathering at the old gas station, trying to figure out how to deal with this situation. And I said, “You know, these guys probably need this stuff more than we do…..lets see if they have room in their ice chests.”

And it turned out, they did. And it also turned out that the guy who helped load the ice bags into the truck knew Peny, from an art class at The Dalles high school.

Peny later said to me that she wasn’t sure how he would turn out — apparently he may not have been the most cooperative art student.

But I think he turned out just fine.

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