The rising sun was a glowing orange ball in a grey soup. I made the mistake of opening the door in the middle of the night because it was too warm in the Lookout. As a result, I awoke with a stuffy nose, scratchy throat, and the smell of fresh smoke as though the fire was right under the Lookout drifting into the door. I had spent a restless night, waking up too warm and throwing the covers off and waking up cold to put them back on. It had been a real mistake to open the door. Another lesson learned the hard way.
Karen Reeves reported to the Numa firefighters that she would be hiking out in the afternoon and that Numa Lookout would be out-of-service until tomorrow when another lookout would replace her.
This morning, I read Scott Emmerich’s last posting on Caringbridge and spent some time weeping about this courageous man and the inspirational life that he led. The best that we can do in this world is live our life well and do good things to help others. I celebrate Scott’s life.
The morning was quiet and cool with cloud cover and smoke. Whale Buttes IC reported that the fire had broken through the retardant on the west side, but that it was not moving much. He requested more retardant and helicopters for bucket work if visibility improved.
I started packing my stuff, washing dishes, and cleaning the Lookout for the next volunteer, Sara. Last summer, Sara showed her spunk by reporting the Adair Fire and the Cyclone Lake Fire during the first 24 hours that she had ever worked as a lookout! She made volunteer lookout history on that day.
I could tell that the Whale Butte IC was worried because he was persistent about checking to see if he could get air support on the fire. However, at noon he had to cancel the arrival of a helicopter because visibility suddenly got much worse. An hour later, 6 Papa Juliet flew by Cyclone Lookout on its way back from taking a look at the fire. Later, 15 Fox arrived for bucket work. In addition, a bulldozer was working to open up an old road near the fire that had mature trees growing in the middle of it.
When Sara arrived, carrying her big backpack filled with her bedding, clothing, and food, I briefed her on all that was happening with fires in the North Fork. With my pack on my back, I headed for home.
After being home for just a few hours, the Whale Buttes Fire sent up a big plume of smoke and grew from 5 acres to 100 acres. The following day, pre-evacuation notices were given to residents along Moose Creek Road and as far north as Deep Woods Way. (Moose Creek Road is a couple of miles north of where I live.) The North Fork community was thrown into the furious activity of helping people evacuate their valuables and calm fears and rumors.
With this flurry of activity, I had very little time to reflect on my time at Cyclone Lookout. I am just glad that I had the chance to play even a very small part in the drama of fire in the North Fork.
Until next year, this Cyclone lookout is out-of-service.