The Midwest has tornados to fear, the East Coast has hurricanes, the deep South fears alligators and copperheads, heck, even San Francisco is afraid of bad quiche. But those of us living in the mountains, we have one, and one only true fear, and that is fire.
At 9:15 p.m. earlier this week, with only two minutes to go on a sappy movie called “Stardust,” the electricity went out. It did flicker for a few seconds, but then it went out. Now living out here where the old VCRs were nightlights that blinked off… off… off… in the 80s, we are not afraid of the dark. Everyone has candles, oil lamps or flashlights. We are used to this as part of living in the country. However, we live on top of the hill behind the Lutheran church. After sitting in total darkness for about 30 seconds, Bill and I got up and looked to see if the rotten squirrels had eaten the electrical cords or maybe aliens from Roswell had decided 109 degrees was too hot for them so they landed in the cooler mountain air, where at 9 p.m. it was a measley 92 degrees in Edgewood.
As it turned out when we looked out of our dining room windows in our two-story house, there was an impressive fire about 800 yards away. It was between on Route 66 and I-40, and the fire was burning bright. It looked to be sending flames about 30 feet in the air. A transformer blew like Fourth of July starbursts in the sky.
But the fireworks had only begun. The actual fire was past the former McLeod Medical center and just west of the State Farm insurance building. It was so close from our house’s west deck that we could see our local police starting to direct traffic and gobs of firefighters all arriving in record time to stop the disaster.
If the wind had been blowing toward the north, the entire hill, including our place would have been destroyed. Four years ago, as the Dog Head Fire came near us, I got our photographs put in tubs in one downstairs bedroom. We have our “important” papers, passports, marriage, and birth certificates in a briefcase. We know which of our art collection should be packed into a car, one for Bill and one for me. You can replace most of anything else except you must have leashes for dogs and carriers for cats. Problem! Our two black labs would go on leashes to the car. Our one black cat into a carrier. But there is one 26-pound cat, James, who will not fit in a cat box or a dog crate. We need a crane to pick him up and put him in the back of our truck. No kidding. He is huge. Maybe he could just roll over on the fire and smother it.
Lucky for Edgewood, we have some of the best firefighters in this county. Up on Municipal Road, at the new facility under the guidance of Chief David Speroing, the intrepid heroes came and in less than ten minutes they were tackling the outrageous blaze. While we were dealing with what to take and how, they had the fire under control. In a flash of remembering Lois Lane and Jimmy Olsen from Superman fame, I called our intrepid editor and yelled, “Stop the Presses!” (Something I had wanted to do for over 60 years, and I told Leota how near the blaze was. She promised to check it out and did, but the crew had it out before she could get her shot). Bill had driven over and was happy to see local police diverting traffic. All our best were there to take care of their charges in Edgewood.
At the end, we did not fear once we knew the top notch First Responders were taking such good care of us. CNMEC had a truck at the scene and worked from 9:45 to 2:45 a.m., when the lights came back on.
This is another thing we take for granted, electricity, though we do stock flashlights, oil lamps and candles. I remarked how hot it was that night and went to turn on the air conditioner, it would not go. Funny, it was electric just like the light that was out in the refrigerator. And surprise, we have no computer, television, or radio. Do not count cell phones, they eat up their charge soon if you listen to music, and you are soon out of batteries. Never get comfortable with all we have. In an instant, and a fire, we could be sleeping in caves, cooking with a campfire and living life with no ice cubes. Roaring Mouse, safe with dedicated Firefighters and smoke jumpers on the job. Out.
From 1966 to 1971, Jo attended the University of New Mexico and Memphis State University, earning degrees in Communications, English, Journalism, Speech and Drama with history minors. At UNM, her hero was Tony Hillerman. She taught high school and middle school in city, country, and private schools for 30 years. Roaring Mouse is in its 25 th year. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org