By Clyde Black
Over 20 years ago, I was a newcomer to Houston County and our rural lifestyle. The intention was to poke a little fun at myself and give folks a grin. I had grown up poor in the country but over the years of city living I had forgotten all the issues of rural living. I knew many folks were buying land out here and planned to have weekend visits and eventually retire here. I figured my own mistakes might help these new weekenders a little. Years ago a reader told me that he’d never seen anyone try so hard to prove he’s a dummy. He was talking about me. Well guess what, I’ve done it again.
As a landowner and elected county official I’ve tried hard to learn about proper care of my place. I’ve always been careful to not do things that might threaten my neighbors. We always have brush to burn and it’s a daunting task for an old man to keep up with 200 acres of fallen trees and brush. I’ve talked with fire fighters and been careful with my burns. Well, guess what, this past weekend I messed up and had to call the Lovelady Volunteer Fire Department! I’ve got brush piles all over the place. Some are huge about house size, others are garage size and others are storage shed size. I have had 2 storage sized piles on my driveway for some time and on this past Saturday I decided to burn one of the piles.
I checked to make sure there was no burn ban and I checked the wind and humidity. Things seemed to be ok to go! I loaded my pick up with coolers full of water, shovels and rakes. The wind was calm so I lit the thing. What I had failed to do was disc or mow or get rid of the long grass around the pile and of course the underlying dead grass flamed up and sprinted from the pile. The fire took off to the north and south! Understand that I’m an old guy with a lot of pride and I recently had back surgery and a life threatening bout with pneumonia. I found myself running to the north with coolers full of water and a shovel to beat the flames. Then I had to sprint to the south with coolers full of water and shovel.
With lungs full of smoke and heart rate soaring and after calling the Strong Woman for more water I finally called the dispatcher for the Lovelady Fire Department. They showed up shortly and saved me! No doubt about it, I confess to being embarrassed. My message this week is to learn all you can about fires and your brush piles and don’t take shortcuts. It’s not worth it. If I had ploughed or removed the grass around my brush pile I could have avoided a major problem. But no, the old Weekender got in a hurry and almost had a major issue. Thanks, Lovelady Volunteers!