I was sitting on the porch with Mason last night, talking to our daughter on the phone. I didn’t have my glasses on. Our back porch is upstairs, and overlooks the valley to the east below, and Lookout Mountain in the distance.
Without my glasses, I can’t see very far. I did see some blurry flashing lights on the top of Lookout Mountain but I didn’t think much about it. We see all kinds of lights on that mountain after dark. A road runs along the top of the mountain, from north to south, and it’s a beautiful drive!
I got off the phone and Mason said, “Mom, do you see those flashing lights?”
I squinted, and said, “Yes.”
He said, “What are those orange lights underneath?”
I squinted again, and said, “I have no idea. I haven’t seen those before. Wanna go grab the binoculars?”
He came right back outside with them and, within a second, he said, “Mom! It’s a fire!”
He handed me the binoculars. We were both standing by this point. Sure enough, LOTS of fire!!
I hollered for Brian. He brought out the the telescope. I tried to take some pictures with my phone but it was too far away. However, putting my phone camera up to the telescope lens worked. I took a video, panning left to right. I then pulled screenshots from those. Here they are:
It was impossible to figure out about how many acres were involved but it appeared to be a large fire, stretching from northeast to southwest on the mountain. It also appeared that there were four different fires in a curly line but that’s probably because we could only see the brightest flames. This morning, I was able to calculate the distance “as the crow flies” using Google maps. The fire was approximately 6.6 miles from us.
While we were sitting outside, I looked online to see if there was any local news about the fire. Nothing.
I then opened up my police scanner app. I haven’t needed to use that since we moved here. Unfortunately, the local police and fire departments weren’t on that app.
We all sat, and watched the fire get bigger. It was spreading down the mountain, not up. It was extremely windy, so much so that I was wearing what I call my beanie cap because the wind was making my hair slap my face. If I had to place a wager, I’d bet somebody was burning outdoors and, in the strong winds, things got out of hand. Through the binoculars, it appeared one structure caught fire because it seemed like there was a square something in flames at the far northeast corner of the fire. We also saw a large, vertical something (a huge tree or a tower of some sort) glowing very brightly when it caught fire.
We could not see emergency vehicles in the woods or on the small mountain roads but we knew they were there. We could only see the ones on the very top of the mountain. At one point, a large helicopter flew over but the pilot did not fly close to the fire.
We could see cars driving on the country roads just to the east (down the mountain) from the fire. I wondered if they even knew there was a fire. You couldn’t see any smoke in the air because it was so dark. It was cloudy and there was no moon.
We stayed up way too late but we decided it was time to head to bed. We prayed for the people who had homes there. We weren’t concerned about the fire reaching us. It would have to cross Interstate 59 (a multi-lane major freeway) in the valley to do that and I just didn’t think that was going to happen.
Just before we went in, we heard several emergency vehicles screaming down the local main road by our house. Clearly, they had called in other local fire departments and volunteers as reinforcements.
I think I fell asleep around 3:00 a.m. I woke up at 5:30 and it was raining pretty hard, thank the good Lord!! I poked my head out the door, and looked through the binoculars. With the rain and heavy fog, I couldn’t see anything at all but, most importantly, no flames. After the sun came up, we could see no fire, nor any smoke so the rain and our wonderful local firemen did a great job!
There are forest fires here every year. This weekend, we’re going to come up with our very first Family Fire Plan. We hope we’ll never need it but I’ll feel better having it just in case.
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Angela Hoy lives on a mountain in North Georgia. She is the publisher of WritersWeekly.com, the President and CEO of BookLocker.com and AbuzzPress, and the author of 24 books.
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So glad the fire was put out! A forest fire and fire on the mountain can be very scary. We had an evacuation scare during the recent fires here in Oregon, in 2022. The Labor Day fire in 2020 was devastating. It’s definitely a good idea to have an emergency fire plan in place and also to plan for an evacuation. Stay safe! I will keep everyone in my thoughts.