Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Hot? Wildfire destroys campground by Barbara Edwards

Jonathon Dickinson State Park, Florida
Jonathon Dickinson State  park in Florida is a fine example of preserved wilderness. We've camped there several times and found the 'gators to be a huge attraction. They nest under a bridge over the inner road. Florida can be hot, but nothing is hotter or scarier than a wildfire. 

Nesting alligator, can you spot the babies?

 The day of the controlled burn was beautiful, the sky clear with little or no wind. The rangers had to burn the thick brush on the far side of the railroad tracks to prevent a wildfire.
Controlled burn across the tracks
The first hint of a problem came with a cloud of smoke and a ranger advising we get ready to evacuate if the fire kept building in the unexpected and sudden 40 mile an hour wind.

Smoke floats over the campground
My Husband, Bill, hurries to pack our equipment
My husband is no worrywart, but he decided not to wait to see if there was a problem. With years of camping under his belt he had our stuff loaded and the fifth wheel hooked up within ten minutes.
I helped while he also assisted people in the next campsite.
The ranger returned and told us to leave anything left unpacked.
Get out!
Within minutes the flames were jumping from grass tuft to bush to scrub and grass. We drove along the exit road and found the flames devouring the brush right next to us.
Campground burning
 We reached the edge of the campground and looked back.
Ranger's truck blocks the road back

The fire burned for hours

Sunset against the smoke clouds

Back in scorched campsite 

We were lucky. No embers damaged our roof and we spent the next two nights in the parking lot. When we returned to our campsite it was ashes.
Jonathon Dickinson State park has been rebuilt since the wildfire in 2006 and upgraded since our last visit. We plan to go back soon.

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Betsy Ashton said...

Wow! Nothing more frightening that a wild fire. While the pics are beautiful, the loss of animal life and habitat is something to mourn. In climates like Florida, the land replenishes itself more quickly than out west. This metaphor for life and writing hits home. Time to light the fire in my brain and return to writing. Write on.

Ashantay said...

Mother Nature is beautiful in all her forms. Thanks for the reminder that the only action we can control are own - and our characters'.

Thanks for sharing your experience.

Sandra Leesmith said...

We are camped in Oregon now and wildfires are all around us creating horrible smoke filled air. Firese are actually good for the ecology, but my heart aches for the wildlife during the fire. Thankfully most can flee.

Morgan Mandel said...

I guess humans controlling nature is an illusion we wish to believe, but nature often gets the last laugh!
Good thing you made it out in time!

Morgan Mandel

Vonnie Davis ~ Romance Author said...

What a scary experience. So glad you made it out safely. Thank goodness Bill knows how to pack quickly, yet is still the kind of neighbor to help others pack, too. Thanks for sharing.

Jannine Gallant said...

The Forest Service does controlled burns around Tahoe all the time, thankfully usually only when there's still snow on the ground. Seems crazy to do it in such dry conditions, but I guess in Florida there isn't a lot of choice. Great photos of the whole experience, Barbara.

Barbara Edwards said...

Hi Betsy,
It was scary and it did spark my imagination. Thanks for the comment.

Barbara Edwards said...

Hi Ashantay,
I've found so much to enjoy when we're out camping. This was one more incredible memory.

Barbara Edwards said...

Hi Sandra,
I agree. I admit I never thought to check on the baby gators before we left.

Barbara Edwards said...

Hi Morgan,
My husband was so calm I never really got frightened until after we were safe. He's great in a crisis.

Barbara Edwards said...

Hi Vonnie,
Bill is a treasure.
Thanks for commenting.

Barbara Edwards said...

Hi Jannine,
Its only in recent years that Florida has returned to the steady controlled burning. The brush grows incredibly fast and dries quickly. It was nature's way to light fires with lightning to burn the excess. Now too many people live in the fire's path to let nature rule.

Margo Hoornstra said...

Nature definitely does rule. As I read this we were getting a rainstorm in Michigan with the sun shining. I'm still hunting for a rainbow. Beautiful pictures. And what presence of mind to take them!

Maggie Toussaint said...

what a harrowing experience! Fires can be quite scary and remind us of how inconsequential things (and life!) really is. Glad you lived to tell the tale.

Barbara Edwards said...

Hi Margo,
I took so many pictures I killed the battery. lol

Barbara Edwards said...

Hi Maggie,
Even though fires are frightening, I'm more afraid of hurricanes and tornadoes.

Unknown said...

Wow, Barbara. What an experience. You'd think the rangers would plan for any sudden, unexpected winds if only because Murphy's Law dictates it would happen during a controlled burn.

Barbara Edwards said...

Hi Keena,
they did, but the unexpected wind took the flames. Lucky they had a crew there to help the campers.