Sunday, February 10, 2008

Burning up the Hills

Saturday had a few hills in store for me in more ways than one.

I met a small group of the Cruisers at 7am for the regular Saturday morning run. The group was very small this morning as most of the people was racing the Valentines Day 5k in Russellville. My plan was to run 6.5-7.5 miles and the route that was called was perfect. Only problem was, this mornings group was all fast people. Brenda, Rock, Lisa F., Jackie, Mark, and another guy that I forgot his name. I say fast because when these girls get together they smoke the streets. So, I was content pretty quickly to be left behind. I knew their first mile would be just a little over 9:00 and I was probably pretty close. I ran a 10:07. then a 10:10 just to keep them in sight. After that I said the heck with it, I'm just going to go slow. This route was basically Bradley to Dietrich, Dietrich to Honeysuckle, Honeysuckle to Stagecoach, Stagecoach to Campground, Campground to Cherry, Cherry to 321 then back to the school. The others were adding on to this route and doing about 15 miles but I didn't need that much so I cut mine short.

Throughout this run I struggled with the running demons. I really felt tired and my legs felt stiff and not wanting to play at all. It actually got pretty warm before I got done but it was still only maybe 40 degrees. I was sweating like it was 75. A couple times before I even hit the 3 mile mark I almost just turned around and went back. I did a lot of walk breaks just to get through the run but afterwards it really didn't hurt my time that much. It still puzzles me how I can sometimes do more walk breaks and run faster or the same pace as doing none.

There are lots of nice hills on this route and I did run up every one. Why everything felt so hard I don't know. Maybe it was because I was running alone, no Ipod, nothing other than my head talking. I have yet to find that place where running is easy and it doesn't hurt something.

Here were my final stats, actually I looked back at some runs on this same route back before my marathon in November and they were not that much faster at all. So that made me feel a little better.

Total miles - 6.55
Time - 1:10:50
Avg. Pace - 10:49

Saturday afternoon added some new hills for me.

I knew with the beautiful weather we were having on Saturday people would start getting stupid and try to burn stuff. The wind was really getting up and about 2:30pm we received our first page for a grass fire at Sayles and 89. It actually ended up being just west of Batesville Pike. I responded with Brush Truck 67 from Station 3. Nothing was being threatened at this fire so I was just going as back up in case it was needed. We had one brush truck and an engine on scene pretty quick. Fire was pretty much out when I got there so no big deal, I figured I'd go hang out for a few at Station 1 so I headed over there afterwards.

We were probably not back at station 1 more than 5 minutes until we were paged out again for another fire. This time it was a woods fire on Lost Creek Road which is off of Fortson, almost in Faulkner County. I knew this could be big as we had fought some very large woods fires in this area in the past. The winds were howling which made things worse.

It was probably about a 8 mile drive to this location. I got stuck with a rookie on my truck so I wasn't looking forward to having to drive, run the pump, tell him what to do and try to watch him at the same time. We also had E62 and BT68 leaving with me. When we arrived we had to drive down a one lane dirt road for probably 2 miles. This is very hilly country and heavily wooded. As we topped one of the hills we finally could see some smoke. We kept driving, found a nice spot on top of one of the hills to park Engine 62 and set up command. I got assigned another rookie on my truck and headed down the narrow road looking for the fire.

About a 1/4 mile down the road we found it. The fire was on our right making a run up a hill. I fired up the pump and sent my rookies with the hose to stop the fire before it could get to the road. It was burning pretty fast but it wasn't like up in the trees since there was no leaves left. Basically just burning ground cover and leaves. I could see smoke ahead of me also but we had to stop this first. I had BT 68 come in behind me and to the right to stop the fire headed towards the house to our south east. After getting this out we headed westward on the road, hit a couple more hot spots then stopped at the top of the next ridge where there was a trailer house. The fire had not gotten close here since the wind was blowing the opposite way. I could however see fire back in the woods so I knew we were going to have to walk in to fight it.

At this point we still didn't have enough people on scene to establish where the fire lines were. Once I had it stopped at the road, I knew we had to find the rest so we started hiking in with rakes and water packs. About a 1/4 mile into the woods we found the head of the fire. The wind was pushing it very fast up the ridge so we worked very fast to get it stopped. It was mainly burning leaves so basically we just raked the burning leaves into the black burned area and they went out. The wind was changing directions too which made it hard to get ahead of the fire but within probably 15 minutes we had it under control and it never got over the top of the ridge.

Once we had this animal contained, then we had to make sure there was a good fire break around the line which entailed raking a 3 foot line around most of the burn area. Anything in the black was ok and would smolder for days probably. This was just some of the highlights of this one. By the time I was done walking and raking, I could feel blisters starting to form on my heels and big toe. Let me tell you, fire boots were not designed to be comfortable or for lots of walking but they will save getting your feet or legs burnt which is key.

You can probably see in this photo the type of land we had to deal with. It's actually steeper than the picture depicts. We were lucky today, nothing burnt but leaves and some brush. I'd estimate this to be probably 25 acres and we put it out with a total of less than 10 firefighters and two brush trucks. We still don't know what started this fire, there was a bulldozer in the area doing some clearing so maybe he sparked something with his blade. We couldn't find where anyone was burning and no one would admit to burning so who knows.

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