Beachie Creek Fire

Beachie Creek Fire

It burned its way

through three towns

            completely obliterating

                        one and all its homes

It continued

            to grow,          bloat

                        created a fire vortex

            its own wind pushing it north

                        through pristine forests

in hills too difficult to stop

            where no roads existed

                        leaving smoking char

                                    in its wake.

Crested the hills to the north

            threatened to claim

                        another town

                                    add a notch to its

                                                growing belt of destruction.

People ordered to evacuate

            leave their homes

                        when no firefighters in the state

                                    were left to help.

Families took their children, their elderly

            their important papers,        their valuables

                                           and fled.

But those who had lived close, worked close 

            determined that the fire could not have

                        the homes, the farms,

                                    their neighbors’ property

They joined together to save

            what they could

                        with what they had:

                                    courage         common sense

                                                farm “smarts” and farm equipment

                                                            an unshakable faith.

No one asked these questions:

            What god do you believe in?

            Who did you vote for?

            What gender do you identify with?

            Are you a citizen?

            What color is your skin?

            How much money to you make?

            What political party do you claim?

Instead, as those who could

            organized, they established

                        a command post (wo)manned

                                    by those too old to fight

                                                but not too old to care.

            Charged with finding            food and water

                        assigning teams       tracking

every person     every phone     every property

                        every piece of rolling stock      and equipment offered

                                                for the effort.

A task force

            led by those with knowledge

                        and experience

            who asked, instead:

                        What do you do best?

                        Have you eaten?

                        Do you have water?

                        Can you drive?

                        What experience do you bring?

                        Do you have a phone?

                        Have you checked in?       

Because those were the only

                        questions that mattered.

Together, they plowed and dug fire breaks

            around every house, every barn

                        along both sides of a canyon

            with a raging fire closing in.

Together, they saved a community

            and an entire small town   

                        lost only one farmhouse

                                    stopped an inferno.

Just plain folks         from every walk of life

                        every persuasion, color, and religion

            who had the courage to do

                        what was right          together:

                                    to love their neighbors.

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