Hanks: Fire Season | TheFencePost.com

Hanks: Fire Season

Jack Hanks

Gentle readers, I don't even remember the first time I heard the phrase "fire season." I don't.

We moved to Colorado in the summer of 1985 over 31 years ago. There was only one time I remember having to go up a mountain side with a chain saw and shovel to put out a lightning strike in the pinions.

I don't remember a fire EVER when we lived on the expansive Mallett Ranch in an oil field camp. There were pump jacks and tank batteries everywhere you looked and everyone smoked. Yet never a grass fire in the nine years we lived there when I was a lad growing up.

There were those huge fires in Colorado Springs and up in the mountains just west of the ONO a few years back. Folks would stop on the interstate to take photos of those huge billowing clouds of smoke as if an atomic bomb had gone off. Scary stuff.

“I reckon fire season is any season when it is windy and dry and it doesn’t matter if it’s in the mountains or on the plains.”

I reckon fire season is any season when it is windy and dry and it doesn't matter if it's in the mountains or on the plains. We have had four, count them four, fires within 2 miles of my place within the last two years.

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That one right out my front door scared the bejeebees out of me. I opened the front door to be confronted with a huge grass fire across the road and had ash and embers landing in my yard and on my house. I didn't know what to do first, I didn't!

Thank God the wind shifted a little and took the fire on up the road. We had a fire last week that burned 2,000 acres just north of here because someone was welding in this high dry wind. Thankfully there was no loss of structures.

Recently, north of McLean, Texas, an area where Martha and I operated a ranch in the '70s had a fire that consumed over 100,000 acres. But that's not all it consumed. A young cowboy, age 20, his girlfriend, a nurse in her 20s and another young man in his 30s were all killed trying to save the livestock on a ranch there.

The man in his 30s was a father of two with another on the way and he worked on the ranch that belonged to his father-in-law. I brought up the Amarillo paper on the internet and saw photos of these young folks. Beautiful young people doing what they thought they needed to do to save some horses and cows. They died in the process, so very, very sad!

In eastern Colorado, a 30,000-acre fire consumed five structures, houses I think, and some 200 head of cattle. That children is a monumental loss financially! Up at Perryton, Texas, in the panhandle, a 300,000-acre fire consumed the ranch home of John Erickson, cowboy, author and creator of the "Hank The Cow Dog" series of books and tapes. I read that John sold his books and tapes, all 9 million, all around the world. Not bad for an old cowboy but sad he lost his beautiful home.

I go walking down the county road on occasion and I see the cigarette butts tossed out a car window into the tall grass in the ditch. How STUPID AND LAZY AND THOUGHTLESS can one be?

Fires don't just start. People have to start them unless it's lightning or a power line goes down. Mostly it's just folks burning trash or not putting out a camp fire correctly.

Just the same, it can be so very deadly and so destructive! I will admit I have burned tumbleweeds here in my back yard but always when the wind was down and I had a water hose running nearby.

It looks like the fire season is going to last well into late spring and maybe all summer. Please be careful because you may cause some young man or woman to try and do what can't be done and lose their life in the process.

Stay tuned, check yer cinch on occasion and don't be that thoughtless, lazy person that may burn me out of house and home some time in the future! I'll c' y'all, all y'all.❖

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