General Question

Bellatrix's avatar

Do you have first hand experience of a bush fire?

Asked by Bellatrix (21297points) September 9th, 2012

Can you describe the sounds, smells and how you felt?

Tell us the story of your experience.

Observing members: 0 Composing members: 0

7 Answers

dabbler's avatar

While I was a kid growing up in the 60’s and 70’s on the edge of Los Angeles, there were several fires that came within threatening distance.
In LA in those years thick air was not so uncommon (air quality in LA is noticeably improved now, even with millions more people and cars) but when a wildfire was approaching it would start to get a woody, campfire quality. There is a lot of wild sage and manzanita and other pungent plants on California mountains and that stuff can hit your in the eyes and throat.

Then the sky turns a weird color, the air gets funkier and has noticeable particulate, eyes and throat sting more. Pets are upset; they disappear or stick really close to you, agitated.

When you see the fire climb over the ridge line to your side of the hill, it becomes very real and you start to wonder if you might have to leave your home. And wonder about what you might come back to…

Fortunately we never did have to evacuate. But after a few hours or days of acrid smoke you might wish you had gone somewhere else for a while anyway.

Tropical_Willie's avatar

The weird color is purple but brown, and the smell can be a wet burning hay with the sage and other odors from oily plants. Fought several fights ( at 12 or 13 ) with back-packs of water with brass nozzles on the end of a slide pump. Got thrown off the fields by the fire chief, I knew his daughter.

Ron_C's avatar

When I was a kid in the 50’s our favorite field caught on fire from a lightening strike. We happened to be very close when it happened and the dried grass caught immediately. We tried to stamp out a ring around the fire but it got too big too fast. The fire department showed up just as we were leaving and, of course, we were blamed for playing with matches. That was cleared up but I never forgot the smell of burning grass and melting tennis shoes. I am aways careful when I start a campfire and always on watch during a lightening storm.

Coloma's avatar

I have had several scares as I live in a high wildfire zone up here in the Sierra Nevada foothills.
We are peaking in our fire season right now through October.
Most recently a fire was started on someones property about a mile down the road from me and it ended up burning the entire hill, about 20 acres, a home, a barn and the barn of a neighbor. The police and fire dept. had my road closed but I was able to take an alternate route back down into my canyon.

Always scary to come home to your road being closed off, this has happened to me many times. Lots of horses and other livestock back in these hills and we all live with fire stress at this time of year.

tinyfaery's avatar

A few years ago the wife and I were awakened at about 4am with the sound of police whoop whoops and the sound of the the loudspeaker saying you must evacuate.

So, we grabbed up 5 cats and our important papers and drove our two cars to an intersection and were stopped by the police.

I lived at the bottom of a canyon and they let the people in the canyon drive out first. The flames were close enough for me to see them with my naked eye. The air was so smokey I couldn’t breathe.

I had a little panic attack but was able to calm myself by the time the cops let us drive out of our little area. At one point the flames were maybe 50 yards away from where we were waiting to drive away.

I refuse to live in the canyons of Los Angeles. NEVER AGAIN?

YARNLADY's avatar

I’ve only seen wildfires from a distance. One year the entire town was surrounded by fire on the tops of the mountains. There was no danger of it coming down into our area, but some people in a canyon area died when they tried to outrun it. Here is an image of a similar fire a few years later.

My family has been inconvenienced by several of the giant San Diego wildfires, but never in any actual danger. One year, my elderly In-laws were evacuated because of the smoke, and were given a free room in the same hotel we were staying in. The hotel also suspended their no-pet policy for evacuations – one rescue group brought in 8 dogs from people staying in shelters that did not allow pets.

trailsillustrated's avatar

I lived in the hills and my children were newborn. A bushfire rushed through with the northerlies and 40+ heat. We got every feather bed soaked and filled the tub, then got under the wet featherbeds next to the interior brick wall of the house. The windows blew out, we could feel our hair scorching. My hands were black and blue later from holding hands praying with the friend that was there to help me with my babies. The fire brigade got as close as they could, and got us out with masks. Our house was pretty damaged.

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