Matfield Green - Our first years

Monday, April 17, 2006

Bill sets the tracks on fire

The Matfield Green Volunteer Fire Department was at our place on Saturday, and with them the Sheriff's Deputy. Seems Bill's fire in the north end of the north pasture got a bit out of hand. First some old discarded railroad ties on the track embankment caught on fire. Then the wind picked up, grabbing the flames and lighting a couple of ties on the active track ablaze. Volunteers Cecil and Randy (R. is also the Mayor of Matfield Green) pulled up in their 1950s vintage red firetruck, with a big tank of water on the back. But really there was nothing they could do, since the truck would never make it up the steep hill of slippery stones to the tracks.

Feeling embarrassed, I know, but determined to prove himself, Bill - who hadn't noticed the fire on the tracks until the emergency crew appeared on the scene - climbed on up to the tracks, 4 gallon tank on his back, and put that fire good and out.

The volunteers contented themselves with dousing a scraggly old elm tree, still burning from the fire the night before.

As the sheriff (or it may have been his deputy) drove away, he said to me, "Tell him that once I leave I cant' control the trains anymore. Tell him to call me if he needs to go near the tracks again." Turns out Bill and his fire had stopped the transcontinental BNSF - at least for a few minutes.

It's two days later now - Monday afternoon - and some of those discarded ties are still smoking. One was still in flames this morning. And the wood chip pile has been smoldering since Friday evening.

It's hard to learn this stuff any other way than by doing. But next time, we'll gather up those railroad ties and we'll be more careful not to light things like elm trees and wood chip piles. But most of all, we'll be much more respectful of the weather forecast when it says to expect high winds later in the day.


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