Spring 2011: Fire and Flood
This is a reminder that some people in Yonder territory are having a tough spring.
In North Dakota, the Red River is flooding again. To see some fantastic aerial shots of some very wet land, see Fargo Forum’s Michael Vosburg’s slideshow, here.
Or, check out the floodcams, posted by the Grand Forks Herald, here.
Exactly 1,562 miles south of Grand Forks, a fire has ravaged rangeland in the Big Bend of Texas. The fire took several houses in Fort Davis. Livestock burned in the fast-moving blaze.
We were mesmerized by Sterry Butcher’s account of the fire in the Big Bend Sentinel. You should read the whole article, but here’s a taste:
The cow lay on her side, bloated and scorched amid the blackened wasteland between Marfa and Fort Davis. The country had been rendered tenantless and unfamiliar, stripped of yucca and grass or anything alive. Nothing moved, save the angry column of smoke that boiled over mountains to the east and another equally ominous column in the vicinity of Wild Rose Pass.
It had been a long and difficult 24 hours. On Saturday afternoon, brutal winds pushed a fire from its origin west of Marfa through hills and ranchland, rocketing with tremendous speed toward Fort Davis and beyond. Fort Davis and the surrounding area were evacuated. By sundown, the Forest Service estimated a loss of more than 20,000 acres. Then night fell.
From a vantage point at the top of Golf Course Road in Marfa, the fire line was a brilliant orange stripe that ran along the horizon as far as the eye could see, hypnotic and beautiful. Out there in the dark, Marfa volunteer firefighters bumped along without headlights, spraying water along the line and hoping that the wind did not turn toward town.
“We’re out there behind the spreader dam, just a few hundred yards from Marfa,” one firefighter said while the crew downed burritos during a break at the fire hall. Their hair was wild, their faces smudged dark with ash and only their eyes were bright. “We have to hope that the wind doesn’t turn.”
Most cell phone service went out. Fort Davis and the neighboring areas lost power, which cut off water. Marfa Public Radio was silenced, except for online broadcast. Solid information about the fire was hazy until Sunday morning dawned and the full force of the blaze could be seen.
“There was nothing you could do,” said Fort Davis newspaperman Bob Dillard, as he stood in front of the Mountain Dispatch office. “It moved so fast. It’s just on you.”