Hey, it's the Wife. First I want to thank you all for the kind words, thoughts and prayers regarding our loss. It means a lot to both of us. The husband wasn't feelin' much up to finishing his story but he had already written it down. I took it upon myself to type it up. So where were we? Oh yes, the fire truck disappeared into darkness.....
Dean turned the truck and trailer around on a dime in the middle of the road. How he did it without hitting any vehicles is beyond me. All I knew is I wanted the heck outta there! We went about a mile back to the north and pulled over.
We called our friend (large producer of great rodeo bulls for over 40 years) as the fire was raging across his pasture. He said he was okay but thought he lost the house. Then the phone went dead. We were very upset now. We wanted to help him but there was nothing we could do. His ranch was west of the road and engulfed in smoke. We decided to head north another mile in hopes of gettin' out of the smoke. As we pulled over in a sale barn parking lot, we noticed they closed down the southbound lane. Must have done it just after us.
There was a fire truck broken down in the parking lot near us. We went over to speak with 'em and listen to their scanner. All we found out was that there were several MORE fires in the area. We started calling other friends that were close, informing them of the fires. Some already knew and were evacuating, others didn't have a clue. We heard the stock contractor lost his home and an unknown amount of cattle.
We finally decided to find an alternate route to get home. After a few extra hours of driving and seeing three or four more fires, we thought we were finally safe. But then we spotted a massive fire to the northeast. At the same time, we said to each other we sure hoped this road doesn't take us that direction. The road took a sharp turn to the north and east! Yep, we were headed straight to the fire. What the heck do we do now?! We pulled over once, then decided to ease up the road and take a look. As we topped the hill, we saw the fire to our right. It was just off the road. There were several fire trucks and police officers but the road was still open. We said heck with it, just drive and drive FAST! Believe me, it was a nervous and fast 10 miles as we drove along the flaming roadside.
Finally, we were headed south again, only an hour from Stephenville. We began to relax. But then, smoke to the south. The radio station said there was a big fire to our west but three more to the south and east. This time we weren't worried about driving thru the fires, we were worried about Dean and several other friend's places.
We finally arrived in Stephenville after nine hours. We were totally drained but everything seemed to be okay. I decided to head home (about 2 more hours) around 7pm. The drive home was supercharged with energy drinks but uneventful. As I pulled into the last town before the house (about 15 miles away), two fire trucks came flying past me. Holy Crap! No way, not more fires! The next 15 miles were fast and furious. I could see a big orange/red glow just to our north. I pulled into the house and started callin' my neighbors. Oops, I woke up most of them! One told me that just before dark, he thought he had seen smoke in that direction but didn't worry about it. The other neighbor called around but couldn't find out anything. I finally got in touch with the Wife as she was coming home from photoshop class. I told her about the situation and asked her to drive that way to check it out.
Okay, this is the Wife. I'm gonna pick it up from here. As I made my way home, I saw two fire trucks. They were at someone's house. Didn't see any flames. Then I drove over by the mysterious orange glow. It was the prison lights! The husband was so paranoid. I called to tell him. He asked if I was for sure. Yes, honey. Those are the prison lights. What you thought were the prison lights are the stadium lights. They are on too. (Okay, back to the husband)
I called the neighbors back and apologized. After explaining the day I had, they fully understood. 18 hours of driving, several close encounters with fire and many friends losing cattle and homes.....I was never so happy to be home and safe with the wife!