Today has been quite an eventfully and extremely stressful day. We received word, at work, that the fire was again out of control on FM 1486. Telephoned the fire department and they said to go home from downtown Houston. The smoke was nearly blinding on FM 1488. Definitely had to keep the windows closed.
Took the Interstate 45 to FM 1488 track to FM 149, then Jackson Road. The fire was definitely out of control. We watched two different fires ignite and grow into monsters. One of the fire’s was actually a leftover from the day before. Traveled up to FM 1486 and Jackson road and spoke with the Constables on staff at the road block. Everything was okay for the moment. The latest update was the firefighters were working on it.
As of this writing, downtown Magnolia is evacuated and two homes in Shady Oaks have burned. Jackson Road is on standby to be closed down again. The roadblocks are positioned and/or being positioned at FM 1486 and Jackson Road, FM 1486 and FM 1774, Jackson Road and FM 149. This information is current as of 9:30 p.m. this evening.
There is a new number to call for information regarding evacuations, whether voluntary or mandatory, as a result of the Montgomery County [Texas] Office of Emergency Management became overwhelmed. This number is 936.539.7812. At this number, one may very well be directed to Facebook for Montgomery County Emergency Management and/or Montgomery County Texas Sheriff’s Facebook.
At approximately 2:00 p.m. we watched as new fires ignited or old ones findng their footing in new ground. This was obviously a very bad sign. Suddenly a large black plume of smoke rushed upward and flowing with the wind. The winds were not strong, they were just steady. The fires kept igniting all day long.
We began saturating the land in front of the house by turning on the sprinklers at two locations to be rotated around the building. Placed one of the sprinklers on the side of the house and in the front of the house where the fire was trying desperately to encroach upon. Still, everything seemed somewhat okay.
The fire plumes were growing and at a pretty fast rate. Called the some folks to come trailer out Stella, she’s the horse.
At approximately 4:00 p.m., the oscillating sprinkler stopped oscillating. At this point we were going to go to Walmart and get a new one. Daughter wanted to stay home, everything seemed fine. Looked up into the sky while driving away and saw the most frightful sight yet. The smoke plume like a hand getting ready to come down on my house. Stopped by the roadblock and asked if there was any update. The Constable talked into his radio and turned to the parked crowd and yelled at everyone to GET OUT. Go north and get out now. After explaining that my daughter was still at the house, he yelled to go get her and get out.
Sudden fear engulfed every bone in my body. My daughter telephoned that the lights had been cutoff. This is the last phase just before mandatory evacuation. Drove back down Jackson Road the mile and a half to the road we live on and loaded up the car. Went through the checklist of must haves to make certain everything that was feasible to begin with basic necessities and dishes were captured.
Went outside, placed the lawn chairs over by the burn barrel, which was now a useless anomaly, and sat down for a small break. Just then, the ground began to shake. It was a familiar vibration, not one of a train or earthquake this vibration in the ground was accompanied with a grand sound of powerful engines. Not like an F16 or any other window shattering sound barrier. Just then a smile and a sigh came over me. This was finally the DC-10 that California graciously sent to us. I leaped up and began clapping. My smile broadened and I began explaining its capabilities to the little girls next door. They were excited and when the other neighbor came over, they were calling out for the information again. Everyone was smiling with me.
We looked up and it was as if we could touch the plane, it was so low. These planes are able to fly terrain, under radar and they are just an amazing piece of machinery.
Suddenly, this red, fabulous large wonderful firefighter was directly over us.
Right after the DC-10 passed over us (one could almost shake hands with the pilot it was so low) the helicopters, the Blackhawks and the little firefighter crop dusters passed over us. It was as if someone realized we needed help and the Calvary showed up back to back. The DC-10 made two direct passes over the house and the Blackhawks followed. The smoke began to break up. It was no longer orange fire, it was dissipating into regular ole smoke.
Now it was evening time. We desperately needed a cold drink. The water jug we had filled with distilled water was dry. Dusk had settled in and we were desperate for a cup of coffee and something to eat.
We crept down Jackson Road toward FM 149, asked the Sheriff if we would be able to get back in, he said there was a 20% chance. Ran to Exxon on FM 149 and back home, we made it.
We sat in the car and contemplated sleeping in it but the seats wouldn’t lean back due to the stuff we gathered that we could not live without. Exhausted, emotionally drained, watching new fires light the sky up, we looked at each and came in the house, carrying our favorite pillows and blanket. We will sleep together this evening, that way when the fires strike close to home again we will be ready to run at a moments notice.
Good night and peace to everyone out there going through this emotionally wrenching time. God bless our firefighters and thank you California for the lovely loner of the red dragon!