Fire

Our back garden is a sort of fat, reversed  ‘L’ shape. Imagine it as a square with one neighbour’s property sitting in one quarter of the square and the other quarter of that half shares a boundary with us and  their neighbour on the other side, who is therefore our neighbour for the bottom part of his plot. Got it?

Anyway,  many years ago this second property used to be an old telephone exchange but has for some considerable time been out of commission and the grounds have become considerably overgrown. Recently this property has been sold and the new owner intends to build an eco-house on the plot. We have been clearing our side of the boundary and erecting a new fence. This has been something of a long job over the winter due to illness, weather and other causes.

Preparatory to building his house the new owner, who is temporarily living in the house on the other side of his plot, which will subsequently be sold, has been clearing much of the overgrown vegetation and removing some dead and otherwise obstructive self-set trees and shrubs. There are also on his plot two very wide and tall evergreen trees which actually take a lot of the morning sun from our property and we had privately been hoping he would remove these but leave some of the other smaller trees. However, he wishes to keep them! It’s his plot, his decision. I suspect he is keen to keep the privacy they will give to his house from the main road that runs along the bottom of his plot (and alongside our garden). He had been burning much of this cut vegetation on a bonfire on a cleared area near the fir trees.

One evening about ten days ago I was at the our kitchen window whilst preparing dinner and happened to glance out. I noticed a pall of dark grey smoke rising from where his bonfire had been and assumed he had re-lit it. Suddenly a great gout of flame shot up the two fir trees. I called to my husband and son that our neighbour would need help and we ran out to assist. Fortunately we had not yet fitted the last new fence panel in the top corner so had access to the neighbour’s plot. I immediately started filling buckets with water. The neighbour was there but his hose wouldn’t reach from the next door property so he was also filling buckets. We have two hoses, so my husband and son connected these together, which fortunately reached across our garden, through the fence gap to the trees and with this and buckets of water we proceeded to attack the fire, which had begun to spread to other small trees and hedging.

Another neighbour. we were told, had phoned the fire brigade. Now, we have a local fire station a few minutes round the corner but no, they decided to send one from the main town, some nine miles away, through rush-hour traffic and road-works – presumably because our local station is a voluntary one and they would have to call the men out. Even so, I’m sure it would still have been quicker. By the time the fire brigade arrived we had pretty well extinguished the fire and all they needed to do was spend a few minutes making sure we had damped it down properly.

It turns out that our neighbour had not burned anything on the bonfire site for about three days and he had earlier that evening spread out the ashes. Obviously the fire had not completely died out or cooled down sufficiently during that time and by spreading the ashes he had allowed the breeze to rekindle the flames. The two fir trees have survived although they have lost a fair bit of greenery and smaller branches, but we can now at least see daylight through the previously dense growth!

The moral of this story is, as any Girl Guide or Boy Scout could have told him, that you should always keep a bucket of water close at hand and make sure your fire is well and truly out before you leave it. Thankfully there was no serious harm done but it could have been a lot worse – it doesn’t bear thinking about!

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7 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Brenda Davis Harsham
    Apr 30, 2018 @ 16:00:26

    Oh my. What a close call. So lucky you were there and you saw it start. Frightening!

    Reply

  2. Jules
    Apr 30, 2018 @ 16:45:56

    In differing counties here there are laws about burning your own yard debris. In my area you are not allowed. Though some still do. They believe if they have their fire manned that it is OK. But the law is the law. However just like the law here is that any pet needs to be on leash… most often cats and a few dogs roam free. And with cuts in manpower – well the pressing matters get attended to first, things like theft, property damage and bodily harm.

    Even if one just burns yard debris, stuff like poison ivy can get in the air and cause grief to those who are allergic to it. Doesn’t matter if the oil is touched or in hailed.

    I hope your neighbor learned this valuable lesson. Being that our family is involved with volunteer and professional fire – we are extremely sensitive to safety in this regard. Thank you and your neighbors for your quick action.

    Reply

    • Libby
      May 01, 2018 @ 14:55:28

      No law here although you are expected to be considerate about wind direction etc and of course take due care. In this case he had supervised it when it was properly alight, the problem was that he thought it was out having not added to it for several days.

      Reply

  3. elaine patricia
    Apr 30, 2018 @ 20:34:12

    That could have been worse. Not everyone has their own forest fire.

    Reply

    • Libby
      May 01, 2018 @ 14:57:40

      There are quite a lot of trees around us so we were lucky. I dread to think what would have happened if we had just waited for the fire engine! Now our neighbour has two well scorched fir trees but I expect they will recover in a year or two.

      Reply

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