July 18, 2006

Scroll down for photos of the fire.

Written July 29, 2006:

If you have been checking my entries from late June and early July, you would understand that it has been extremely dry.

As a result, much of the vegetation is dry, resulting in a lot of red flag warnings for the area.

On the date of July 18, 2006, it was a hot, windy day.

I was first alerted of a fire at my father's farm about 3:35 p.m. (I understand that the fire department received a call at 3:29 p.m.).

As soon as I drove out of my place of work - about 30 miles away - I could easily pick out the smoke near my dad's farm. I drove a little faster than normal.

About 10 miles north of the farm, my dad called me and said it was questionable if all the buildings would be saved. About five miles north of the farm, someone else called me and said that the house would probably be saved.

About two miles from my dad's farm, the highway patrol was making people turn around and take an alternative route because the fire was close to the highway up ahead. I drove by the cars that the highway patrol was turning around, drove up to the officer and told him that the farm that was burning was my dad's farm. He let me through.

As I was about one-half mile from my father's farm, I saw that the fire had already advanced quite a ways.

I pulled over in the median as I arrived at my dad's farm. The barn was on fire (the hog house had already burned, but it was impossible to see with all the smoke). It was quite a site, and a discouragement to see the damage.

I connected with my dad, and there wasn't much we could do. We were told to stay by the highway due to the explosive nature of the fire.

As I stood by the highway, I noticed a number of news media present including KXMB-TV, KFYR-TV, the Bismarck Tribune and Associated Press. There was another large fire near Fort Yates, but the news media was focusing on this one - probably because it was close to Bismarck and they could get out here and cover it quickly and get back and file a story.

It didn't take long, and a granary to the northwest of the house caught on fire. First, there was a lot of smoke coming out from under the roof. It didn't take long and the flames showed. The firefighters worked furiously to save the garage by spraying water on the west side (they did save it).

After the granary burned, it quieted down some. In the meantime, a couple of ambulances showed up (just in case), and the Red Cross arrived, providing food and water.

At 6:00 p.m., KXMB-TV did a live report at the start of the newscast, showing the farm in the background. Great job!

Sometime after 6:30 p.m. (it's hard to remember exact times), I took my dad's four-wheeler out, and drove to the area where the fire was started (along a section road that is rarely traveled). Soon after, I saw fire to the north and knew exactly at that moment that the pole barn about one-quarter mile north of the house was burning up. I quickly drove to the pole barn, and while the firefighters were working hard, there wasn't anything they could do.

Much of the rest of the evening was visiting with people who stopped by.

After sunset, I made a decision to stay up all night and watch the fire so that my dad could sleep. I got a water hose and sprayed the grass on the north side of the garage and house for much of the night, as the wind was shifting to the north. At times, the wind would come up, and I would then look out in the shelterbelts and see flames due to the increase in oxygen to those areas. At other times, a branch or an entire tree would come crashing to the ground, giving me a fright.

Also, during the night, about four people stopped in and thought that the fire was just starting. I told them that it was under control. Many people also slowed down and stopped by my dad's approach as they smelled the smoke and saw the flames. In addition, the fire department checked hot spots many times during the night. They said that they were getting about 3-to-4 911 calls an hour.

I rested my eyes a few times in my vehicle during the night, but didn't sleep. Neither did my dad. He was out 3-to-4 times during the night to check on things. Near 6 a.m., it was a little chilly, and a jacket actually felt good.

The following day, my dad and I took turns monitoring the fire as buildings, trees, and organic matter was still burning. During the early evening, things looked to be under control, and about 7 p.m., I went home, showered, fell asleep about 8 p.m., and slept for a much needed 12 hours - especially after having stayed up the entire previous evening.

What has happened since then:

There haven't been any additional fires. Much of the time has been spent with cleanup of buildings, damaged fences, and trees.

Obviously, a lot of memories were lost. However, we saved a number of buildings, and we're thankful for all the help we had on July 18 to stop the fire from spreading.


The four below photos were taken with a cell phone camera. The remaining photos were taken with a Nikon P4.

The barn on fire. Notice the flames going up the north side of the silo where there is wood.


The barn, engulfed in flames.

 

The barn, almost completed burned.


The granary on fire.


The former hog barn still on fire.

The remains of the granary.

The remains of a corral.

The pole barn starts on fire.

Stored firewood on fire in the pole barn.

The remains of the barn (the silo was later demolished).

The white ash makes it look like Christmas in July.

The same.

Remains of the pole barn.

Damage to a shelterbelt.

The barn, with oats still on fire near the silo.

Remains of the barn.

Looking west where the fire started adjacent to a trail that is rarely used.

Looking east at the farm.


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