Monday, August 23, 2010

The Church Burning

At the beginning of May, we went to the farm to help with the church burning. It was quite an adventure!!

These hands work hard. And play hard!

These hands are where he learned it! So full of character and so many memories.

Some neighbors came and took out the front door and Mom & Dad have the side windows.

Seems to be plenty of gas...

Binga, Great Grandma, Anna, and Jacob sit back in the car and watch.

Pouring the gas! I think he used 5+ gallons along the walls.

Grandpa rigged up some torches to throw through the windows.

The way the torches lit right up we didn't see any reason the same wouldn't happen inside. Boy did we have another thing comin'! It took at least an hour for it to really get going...after several attempts to accelerate it! Dad jokingly told Grandpa he shouldn't have gotten the cheap gas! :)

Finally it started flaming upstairs. The basement lit right away but for some reason it didn't go through the ceiling very quickly.

We thought we were in trouble! ;) On top of the church excitement, we got to see some military helicopters flying over!

One of the attempts to get the fire going...not the smartest idea Dad! He's lucky he didn't catch his arm on fire!! He teases Grandpa about getting cheap gas but he wouldn't just throw the glass jar filled with gas in the widow--he just threw the gas in!! "Well I didn't want to throw away the's glass!" As if Grandma doesn't have another 30 at the house!!

Watching and waiting...

Believe it or not, the fire still isn't really picking up on the top floor. It caught around that window (where all the gas was thrown in) but the rest of it didn't catch.

And then it started smoking. And smoking. And smoking!!

Dad's taking the tractor to make sure the fire break he made earlier is still holding.

And then the smoke got black and the fire was raging!!

This picture isn't out of focus...that's the heat radiating from the fire! We were probably 100 yards away and it was almost unbearable!

The day was fairly calm, actually cold, until the fire starting catching. Then the wind picked up! And of course, the fire created its own strong wind.

What happened next is craziness. There is part of a field between the church and Grandma & Grandpa's house, with 2 large wind breaks (rows of huge pine trees) in between. There's about 1/4 mile between the church and the house. Once the fire really started, things got out of hand pretty fast. We were standing there watching and all the sudden Dad takes off running for the tractor (you can see snatches of this in the video I'm posting next). He takes off across the field at rabbit speed, so we figured we better go make sure everything is okay. The fire had jumped the fire break he'd made and was in the field and heading toward the wind break! He was trying to put it out in the field when Aaron saw that there was a very small fire at the end of the first wind break. Aaron was running around trying to find the hydrant and hose, Dad was trying to keep it from going any closer in the field and Mom & I were arguing over who should be out there helping (pregnant or not, I won :D). In the meantime, the kids were standing by the back door (well out of danger) and I realize Anna is crying her terrified cry. Mom had run back out to give me a mask and Anna thought she had left her and Jacob there alone and that the house was going to catch on fire. Poor girl. Binga made everything all right, no worries. :) So Aaron, Grandma, and I work to keep the small fire at the wind break small and put it out. Aaron ripped up his shirt and his back running in the trees. Grandma and I had shovels smashing out the embers. Then Grandpa comes over in the pickup and says we need to get to the other side of the house because a fire has started in the ditch (on the other side of their driveway!)!! So she and I jump in with him and we go put out that fire. After the wind break is taken care of, we head out to the field to help stomp out embers there before they can spread again. Grandpa and I are in the middle of the field when I look over toward the road and notice there's a fire by a big silver tank and the sprinkler engine! I holler at Grandpa and ask what's in the tank. I didn't like his answer...FUEL!!! So we hightailed it over there to get that out. It took us quite a while before we had all the embers out and things under control.
Now, some of you may be thinking why in heaven's name didn't they have the fire department out there?! Dad had called to ask them to come out and be there, even to use it as a training exercise. Turns out, because of insurance they aren't allowed to do things like that (isn't that kind of an oxymoron?!?). So they told us to call if it got out of hand and they would come out. Here's the problem with that...the farm is probably 10 miles outside of town and it's a volunteer fire department so it's not like they had a crew of firemen waiting at the station for the next call. By the time they would have gotten there, we had it under control. So no, we're not a bunch of crazy hicks! :)

When the fire started so slowly, we were sure we'd have to take shifts through the night to keep watch over it until it had the church down. But it only took maybe 30 minutes to burn it down once it got going!

The next day or so was spent hauling junk from "the hill" to dump in the basement.

After that raging fire, the bulletin board still stands!!

After everything was cleared from "the hill", a hired man came with his bulldozer and pushed in the foundation and buried it so the corner (the "lot" where the church stood) could be planted to grass. Now, you'd never know there was ever anything there. What an adventure!!!

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