A recent lightning storm started a handful of fires near St. George, Utah yesterday morning. I was woken by the thunder and rain and thought the lightning was a little too close or comfort, but went back to sleep anyway. I didn't find out about the fire until later in the day while visiting with a friend of mine.
By evening yesterday, there was a lot of ash in the air and the almost blotted out by the smoke. To the north, we could see large billows of smoke and I became somewhat concerned for my camp.
My concern increased when I went home last night. One of the fires was right on the opposite side of the road. Spectators were lining up alone side the road. I pressed on pass the closest fire, which ended up a little to the south of my camp and I didn't perceive as much of a threat. In the dark, however, other fires alone highway 18 seemed too close for comfort. I decided to pack up camp and head for town.
By the time I was done packing, which didn't take long, the highway was blocked off and city police and county sheriffs deputies were redirecting traffic through Snow Canyon. I was not about to carry all my things that far and no one would give me a ride, so I went back to my campsite and unpacked. I resetup camp and consigned myself to die. But, I knew I wouldn't. By that time the fires had died down and didn't seem so threatening. So I went to bed.
This morning, I was pleased to see the ridge line I had been watching most worried about the previous night was not as close as it looked when the fire was burning behind it. Had I realized how far away that ridge was, I never would have been concerned and could have saved an additional two hours of sleep.
To tell the truth, I was still somewhat concerned about the smoke. But, I do have a constant wind that blows down from the north so it wasn't bad enough to worry about either.
Well, you never can tell about these kind of things. I always hear stories about people fighting fires who think the fire is “under control” then the wind changes and oops! I'll tell you though, like an atheists constant denial of God and sudden conversion in times of crisis, I found myself wishing for those strong, incessant winds that I hate so much and were conveniently, and uncharacteristically absent. The wind, despite how much I hate it and cannot find a purpose for it, would have come in handy last night for my assurance that my camp was safe. It always blows from the northwest to the southeast and had it been blowing last night, I'd have known the chances were slimmer that the fire would spread west toward me.
Well, the point is I'm alive and well and thank God for that. I hope others faired as well.