Sunday, December 11, 2011

Another Fire

So we've had some excitement here at camp this week.  A wood shed holding a lot of wood for our boilers burned down on Monday night.  We're thankful there were no injuries and nothing was lost that some hard work can't replace over the next months.  I'll go into the details of the fire below, but first I'll go over my week at camp.

Spray on insulation.  Very messy, but very effective.
Believe it or not we actually have more pressing matters to attend to than the fire here with the maintenance crew.  Now that the insulation has been sprayed in, we need to put up glassboard over our freezer and cooler in the East Side Dining Hall.  Once that's done we can fix up one of the hotel style rooms that had some water damage from the leaking.  With holiday weeks approaching and Winter camp following closely behind... we have to get this stuff done.
Benches under the new porch of the ESDH.

In the meantime Terry Shaw has put in some hard work on some new benches and a counter under the new porch on the ESDH.  I'm a big fan of this because it gives a couple more eating options for the campers and staff when weather permits.  I hope to enjoy meals and some relaxing moments on these benches this Spring and Summer.

Beautiful wrapping job.
I haven't wrapped anything in years!  My mom usually does it for me (I think she enjoys wrapping things) which has enabled me to ignore wrapping since I was a kid and would try to help out for fun.  This was my first attempt and it did the job.  I didn't even have to use any of my masking tape for it!  Hopefully no one is offended by poorly wrapped gifts this Christmas.

Now for the fire.  I'll go into the details, my role in it, and I'll try to explain some points of confusion.  First the story of the fire, then how it will affect us over the next months.  This will be a lot of words to read, so unless you're really interested in the fire I might drone on here.

What remains of the woodshed.
So on Monday evening I was over at the Ford's house.  They had treated me to some hamburgers and I was about to go to the first home game for Fairview's boys team.  Right when we were leaving (6:35 pm) Mike Baker came up to the door and told us that there was a fire in the Carpenter Shop area (Side note: This caused some folks to think it WAS the carpenter shop, but Mike was just trying to put us in that area.  We have a lot of wood boxes and wood sheds and he didn't want us going to the wrong place).  It turns out he was going to the West Side for some milk and (like many of us) didn't bring his phone with him.  On the way he couldn't help but see the orange glow.  So that's why he returned to get his phone and tell the closest people what was going on.

While Jon and I hurried over to the Fire Barn to get the fire trucks out Petie Brown was notified and she started calling every staff man at camp.  The trucks all started up great (once I found the choke in mine), which is a blessing because the equipment is old.  Jon left with the Fire Bus (carrying turnout gear and much of the fireman equipment we use), then I followed with the fire truck.  Jeremy Linsley was right on my tail with the water truck.  It was probably one of the fastest responses I've seen us perform. 

Upon entering the Maintenance Yard it was awesome.  Not in the good way, but in the way you kind of look on the fire in awe.  Flames to the treetops.  Wow.  This is when I realized it was the wood shed and it was really quite a relief.  A wood shed doesn't have any people in it.  No valuables.  Just wood.  This means that unless it suddenly spreads, no one would be in harms way for this fire.  It was safe for the moment. 

We also lost a wood box we use to transport wood.  Here's the frame of the new one.
To try and keep it safe we started unraveling hose, preparing to wet down the area and keep the fire from spreading.  The men took turns spraying down the couple trees in the immediate area, the rest of the lumber and the fire itself.  I really think it would have been harder to keep it contained, but the tin roof had collapsed on it, smothering it to some degree while preventing embers from flying all over the place.  While some folks were hosing the fire down, several of us were moving equipment away in case the fire spread.

Honestly, that is pretty much it for our response to the fire.  The Fairview Fire Department showed up and helped us contain it.  I actually left to go to the basketball game with some of the Ford's and we made tip off at about 7:30 pm.  It was decided that we'd let the fire burn itself out rather than attempting to put it out.  This was nice because then the fire pretty much cleans itself up for us.  I returned for my shift watching the fire at 3am.  Titus Brown joined me and we spent the morning pushing back the ashes and isolated chunks of wood.  Just trying to make it all burn down low, while recovering nails, screws and some other miscellaneous pieces of metal from the fire. 

Now for the cause.  We don't know for absolute sure, but in all likely hood it was our own brush fire.  On Monday we had been burning scrappy brush in the morning and stretching up until about 2pm.  When doing this we come and go a lot, keeping an eye on it when we're there.  Well the last guys to take a look at the fire saw it puffing a little bit of smoke at 4pm and 5:15pm. 

The new wood box completed and filled.
People have questioned why the burn pit is so close to our fire wood, and it's a legitimate question.  In my opinion, there are few better spots for the burn pit.  It's about as far away from the thick woods as you can get, and the closest building was the wood shed.  I think of the other buildings we could have lost and I personally prefer the wood shed over any other building of this size.  (Too bad it couldn't just be the Hillbilly Porch!).

Another question I've heard a lot of is how wood did we lose?  How much money in heating?  The answer is arguable a little bit.  My guess is that it was something near 35 cords of wood (it depends on the math).  Whatever the exact number, it was a lot of wood.  About 90% of this wood was used on our boiler that heats the East Side Dining Hall.  Very little was used in regular fireplaces such as the West Side Dining Hall, or chapels.  We won't spend extra on heating though, cause we still have time to cut more wood and keep the boiler stocked. 

What we didn't lose is the hours of service from Engineers.  The high school guys that cut wood.  It's a perfect example of what makes it through a fire and what doesn't.  The work they did is still work done to the glory of God.  And we'll have to do it all over again, but still to His glory.

So now we'll be out cutting a lot of wood.  We've already finished a new box for transporting wood (I scattered pictures above to break up the paragraphs), and camp purchased a wood splitter to help us prepare for the Winter.  Mike Alchin has spent most of the week out in the woods cutting down the dead trees around camp, getting ready to chop it up and burn it.  The last two Winters I spent a lot of time in Crosscut, cleaning when I could.  Now it'll be cutting wood and cleaning most of the time.

If you made it this far then good job!  I've seen 4 fires here at camp, and I've been partially responsible for 3 of them (1- Warming hut: Started the wood stove and the chimney caught on fire. 2- Pine Cabin: I was cleaning and one of the fluorescent light bulbs malfunctioned, catching on fire. 3- Wood Shed: Spent most of the day tending the brush pit).   So hopefully that's it for a while!  Thanks for sticking with me.

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