Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Burn, Baby, Burn!

Janiac and I getting ready to start the day

I am currently on an extended vacation with Janiac in California.

I can't recall if I've mentioned it, but she get angry because typically when I come to visit her, it is for an event and I'm not in town very long and apparently there are lots of things that she wants to show me.

At least twice I visited her while she lived in Paso Robles and she wanted to take me wine tasting, but inevitably we had a little too much to drink the night before and wine was not really the first thing we wanted.

So we scheduled a trip. A very long trip.

One of the other things that she really wanted to do was to show me her family's ranch.

On Sunday morning, we set off from Hanford to Paso. We had plans to wine taste and then head out to the ranch for the night, because on Monday, there was scheduled to be a prescribed burn on the ranch and we were "the help."

We managed to successfully taste wine at one place before getting distracted with shopping and heading out to the ranch.

Monday morning, we woke up, had breakfast, and began moving vehicles and equipment for the fire. 

Let me back up for a moment.

When Janiac was in Arizona a couple of weeks ago she received a text from her mom asking if she would be around on a couple of specific dates because they were scheduling this burn and needed help. 

The dates were Nov. 8 and 11. Janiac said that Nov. 8 wouldn't work because I was flying in on the evening of the 7th and we wouldn't be able to get to the ranch in time.

Unfortunately for us, they went ahead and scheduled the burn for that day.

On Friday, we were sitting at the house and Janiac gets a text from her sister, "Burn cancelled. Bulldozers, prisoners, and two helicopters headed to Toro Creek."

Wait, what?

Helicopters? Prisoners? What are we in for? 

Jane says, "I thought this was the 15 guys from the fire camp down the road with some shovels."

I replied, "Apparently that would be like bringing a knife to a gun fight."

Only a portion of the equipment that would be used throughout the day
Pre-burn briefing
After the briefing with all of the crews, Janiac and I headed up to where the fire was supposed to start with a couple of other folks. They laughed at me when I got nervous about driving into the fire. I was like, I don't know if you've noticed, but those guys up there - they are wearing fire suits. We are wearing jeans and t-shirts. If the fire happens to get out of control, we are going to have some troubles.

Lucky for us, the fire did not get out of control, but we headed back down to the camp around lunch time to help put lunches together for the ranchers who had volunteered to help. Once they were ready, we got into the Polaris with Janiac's mom to deliver them. 

So into the fire we went again. This time, I wasn't as scared.

We were about halfway through delivery when we stopped to talk to one of the fire fighters and he was telling us that they had the perimeter pretty well burnt, but since the fire wasn't carrying well, they were going to start using the heliotorch.

What is a heliotorch, you ask? Well, we had the same question.

Basically, the attach this tank to the bottom of the helicopter and it shoots out napalm and starts fires.

(I have a video of this awesomeness, but for some reason, blogger won't let me post it.)

For the remainder of the day, Janiac and I rode around with her mom surveying the fire. At one point, we went up to the highest point of the fire to get the best view possible.

The day ended with a huge bbq for all of the firefighters, prisoners, and volunteers. We served over 100 people dinner, and were in bed by 8:30pm.

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