It has been a hot summer. July was the second hottest since they started keeping records in Savannah and the average temperature of the month was 86.1 F. We have had nearly 60 straight days of 90 degrees or above. It has also been humid, often at 90%, yet the humidity hasn’t resulted in much rain. We’ve only had a little over an inch in all of July and about the same in August. Everything is dry. Those south of Jacksonville or just to the north or a bit inland have been getting rain. But the warm landmass have created strong sea breezes that keeps the moisture from reaching us along the coast.
|Photo by another volunteer|
On top of the heat, life this summer has been a bit chaotic as a volunteer fireman. We have had numerous calls into homes where the air conditioning air handler motors have burned up and filled the home with smoke. Thankfully, no one has been hurt (although without air conditioning in this climate, they run the risk of burning up with a fire). But last Wednesday, we had a call that I didn’t want to hear. My pager went off at 4:25 AM. The dispatcher announced that a neighbor had called in that his house was fully engulfed. Although the fire was on the island I live, it was a good six miles from my house. I arrived after the first trucks, but the house was already gone with the roof caving in. We were there for seven hours. At first, it was putting out grass fires that threatened neighbors, while trying to keep the fire cooled as it burned. Once the fire was contained, we were able to put it down, but only with a lot of water.
|Photo by another volunteer, |
shooting water over the creek
The past week, we’ve had many calls for smoke and a fire. A hammock (a high sandy place in the middle of a marsh where there are trees (pines, live oaks, myrtles, palmettos, etc) has been burning and every wind shift we get a call. The hammock is about a 100 yards from a Continuing Care development and on Monday night, when it was burning on the side of the development and spreading sparks, someone through we should try to do something. We set a line out into the marsh on the edge of a deep creek separates the hammock from the mainland. We poured water through a blitz nozzle that could shoot several hundred feet. We had two trucks and I manned the hydrant, filling one truck while the other was employed in pumping water. We cooled the fire a bit, but we were unable to put it out. That’ll have to wait for rain. We poured water for about an hour and when I got home, my T-shirt was soaked with sweet. The fire continues to burn, but not as hot as much of the undergrowth is already consumed.
|Preparing to head out|
On Tuesday evening, another volunteer and I decided we’d check it out while enjoying a moonlight paddle. At the last minute, the other guy wasn’t able to make it, so I went by myself. I put in at Butterbean Beach at sunset and paddled up the Intracoastal Waterway. The moon, as it was a few days before full, was above the horizon and rising. Bottlenose dolphins greeted me as I paddled out through the bridge and toward the creek running up toward the hammock. As the light faded, you could see a bit of smoke from the hammock. The moon’s rays shimmered as I paddled up into the creek. The fire was laying down. The night before the flames were jumping up five or ten feet. This evening, there were only a few small visible flames that looked like campfires. What was neat was seeing the vortexes of dead pines, which were burning from cavities inside the trees and spewing out sparks. After paddling around the hammock, I returned back to the waterway. Stars were beginning to come out, although dimly with the bright moon.
|Approaching the smoking hammock|
Today, I washed my bunker gear and tomorrow, I leave to help move my daughter into her college dorm. :(