It's one of those sentences you hope to never hear when you live in a heavily wooded area like we do in Huddart Park. But this morning, that was exactly what happened.
I threw on some clothes and turned on the outside lights to the house. I hoped that it was just Christi's new-mom senses in overdrive picking up one of the neighbors wood stoves. But as the outdoor lights struggled against the dense smoke, I knew that Christi was right. It smelled like a brush fire, and it smelled close. Before we could collect ourselves, the red siren lights from the fire trucks cut through the smoke and headed our way on Kings Mountain Road. One truck came right up our driveway, and my heart jumped right into my throat.
Christi and I didn't have to speak - we knew the drill. Emergency fire preparation is one of the few inconveniences of living in the sticks. Fill both cars with the kid, dog, cats, photo albums, computers, and overnight bags. Wake the neighbors, free their animals if they aren't home. Be ready to be gone in 10 minutes.
I strapped on my headlight (set up and ready for this weekend's Tahoe 72 miler), and went out to meet the firefighters. They knew the blaze was within a few miles, but had not yet located it. We found the best view we could from our property, but all we saw was smoke. I walked down the street with them, letting them know which trails led where. Lights from the neighbor houses swept through the smoke like foglights as everyone looked for the source. It was eerily quiet, short of a few horses reacting to the smoke.
The helicopters began to circle, and I saw "KTVU" printed on the side of one of them. I ran back to the house and we turned on the news and saw the blaze (video here). Sure enough - it was right where the Crystal Springs Trail meets up with the Dean Trail, about 2 miles away. Far enough not to worry, but close enough not to rest.
We spent the next few hours waiting tensely. I felt comfort in the fact that we had gone through this in our heads, and knew that there were really only a few irreplaceable items in our lives. If needed, you could rebuild your lives from the trunk of a car. But I sure hope we don't have to.
The Park Rangers have been great about keeping us updated, and the volunteer fire crew at Kings Mountain has kicked into overdrive. As of 10am, the fire is 50% contained, and we should be in good shape by noon. But I'm keeping my running kicks on just in case...
[update as of 12:23pm]
The fire has been contained. Whew!