Feeling the Burn

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By Carl Woody ERT member, Carl Woody, gets ready for the team's first prescribed burn.

The first fire of the season. It was hot. Much, much hotter than I was expecting.

The day started off normal enough. Making coffee, eating breakfast, prepping for our day. And then we got a call. Get your fire gear on, we're burning Tingler Prairie today. Chaos. I thought it was some kind of test of our preparedness. Nope, we were actually going to the years first prescribed burn. We could all feel a buzz in the air on the drive to the site. When we got there there was a whole MDC crew there to work the fire as well. I remember Neil turning to me, telling me he felt like a newbie. I agreed. These folks had clearly been here before. We were all green horns. Fresh off the boat. And We did a pretty good job too.

The back burn was tough to light. There was pretty high humidity, especially down in the wetlands. We had to go back and relight a few spots.

Keep moving -- Burn -- Eat smoke -- Move -- Burn -- Eat smoke -- Move -- Burn eat smoke -- Eat pizza (our contact Justin bought about 20 pizzas) -- Move...

Finally we get to the grand finale. The grass prairie. We all wanted to light it off. Olie took the lead. Savana behind him. Me behind her. We light and move. That was the most heat I've felt in all my life. We were trapped between the fire and a barbed wire fence.

Nowhere to go. The heat was oppressive. Pushing me back to the fence.

And in the blink of an eye it was gone. The 120 acre prairie burned to black in under three minutes. An incredible sight. I now have an incredible respect for fire.