Weds Feb 10th, 2016
I had just returned home from running errands, put up groceries and sat down for a second before heading out to drain and scrub the horse troughs when a sharp knocking at the front door sent the dogs on high alert and myself leaping from the chair and stumbling over them in a foot race to the door. We don’t get many visitors out here, especially during the day. I’m usually very cautious about who I’d open the door for as a woman alone out in a rural area. I peered through the peephole and saw the vague image of a man standing there. I nearly walked away when he turned slightly and I caught a glimps of a uniform. On instinct or sheer gut feeling, I opened the door. It was a Fed-ex driver but the look on his face suspended my every thought. “There’s a wild fire behind you heading this way fast!”
I can’t even recall what I might’ve said to him as my body shot into mindless motion and in a split second I was out the back then suddenly frozen in utter disbelief! A wall of flame and thick black smoke stretched as far as I could see through the pasture adjacent to mine.
The wind whipped the flames higher, coaxing them on at a remarkable speed…a vision of which looked certain to take my barn, then home. My mind darted from how to save my dogs, losing all the pictures of our kids growing up and the most immediate threat… the horses. I found them tightly huddled in the front pasture but the acrid smell of smoke and approaching flames had them peaked, every muscle taut and at the ready for flight. My fingers trembled so badly that I could barely dial 911 to get help on the way as I ran for the barn, throwing open the gates and doors,…next I’m calling Clay.
I was praying madly as I tried to calm my demeanor. Horses are sensitive creatures and I needed to calmly assure them if I were to lead them into the barn and stall them, as I do, I’m working on plan b.
As I watched the fire overtake my fence and enter my pasture, heading toward my barn, I haltered the mares to make ready to lead them to the cattle farm across the street in hopes their babies would follow.
Clay arrived just after the fire crews. He threw open the pasture gate and flagged them inside, ran for a long hose, hooked it up in the barn and ran it out the back in case we’d have to try saving the barn. A man ran up to help, he was the retired Newcastle fire chief. ( In fact, all the trucks helping our area were from the next town.)
The firemen cut down the barbed wire fences so trucks could run from one pasture and farm to the next, putting one area of fire out while the wind restarted the area they just left. The neighbors got Kevin (our mini donkey) and the mules into a barn as the fire had reached the small chain link fenced yard of their home while he fought it with a garden hose and shovel.
Through the night, areas reignited from the oklahoma winds but when all was said and done and the smoke cleared, we were all found nerve wrecked, a little messy, needing slight repairs but blessedly…gratefully safe.