NOTE: You do NOT want to miss the drone footage of the huge wildfire further down in this article!
Brian here. I’m taking the helm on Home Office today because Angela and I agreed that the last couple of weeks’ events need a special kind of storytelling style: Mine.
You’ll recall last week’s Home Office told of two forest fires pretty close to our home. Last week, we had many more! And, it was just three issues ago that Angela told you about the odd goings on around here and the unusual creature she saw from our back porch.
So, I thought I’d start with a little update on the older news before I dive into what’s new.
Now, we genuinely thought everyone would think we were crazy for divulging what Angela saw. So, we were careful not to throw around the word “Bigfoot.” This is the south and folks don’t much like the apple cart of daily life being overturned. So, running around saying you saw “Bigfoot” can get you shunned pretty quickly.
Fun Fact: Down here, they aren’t called “Bigfoot” or “Sasquatch.” They are referred to as “Wood Boogers,” or just “Boogers,” by the people who have lived here for generations. There are even places named after this moniker, like “Booger Hollow” in Cedartown, Georgia and “Booger Tree” in Winston County, Alabama where, in the latter part of the 1800’s, several sightings of a creature that appeared as part man/part animal were reported by residents of the area. It was named the “Downey Booger” after two cousins who had the first sightings.
So, if you happen to be in the deep South and see a placed named something like “Booger Valley,” it’s not because of hillbillies picking their noses. Think hauntings and strange creatures…
Anyway, no sooner had Angela mentioned to the neighbors what she had seen that day, and the odd sounds she heard in the night, the flood gates opened up throughout the neighborhood. It seems most of our neighbors have heard or seen things that didn’t make sense. They were just afraid to talk about it. Mostly, people have heard unusual screams and howls coming out of the woods. We have fox, bobcat, deer, and coyotes here. They all make their own strange sounds. Yet, neighbors confided in us that they’ve heard sounds coming out of the woods that did not match anything like those animals. One neighbor, who is in banking and is very respectable, told a story of being on his back porch two years ago when something in the woods started grunting and growling, and then pushed a tree down. He also explained that his father, a retired engineer, saw something crossing a hay field one day. It was large bi-pedal, covered with hair, and walking upright like a human does. And, he shared that he discovered a tree on his property (he has 60 acres) “decorated” with garbage. Yes, that’s right. Something had collected things found in the neighborhood and/or forest, and hung those things from a tree. The neighbor called it a “Christmas Garbage Tree.”
We had a Halloween neighborhood block party planned for the following weekend. Well, what do you do when there is a rash of strange encounters in October? You have a BIGFOOT themed party!! One of Justin’s relatives is a professional cake maker, and created the most elaborate Bigfoot cake, complete with chocolate, candy coated rocks. Check out the shadow details on the trees! She is amazing! If you live near Cartersville, Georgia, look her up!
One of our neighbors brought over a little stuffed Bigfoot doll as a gift. Even the curator of the Expedition Bigfoot Museum, David, attended, per our invitation.
David is a really great, salt of the earth dude who is easy to talk to. Everyone at the party spent time telling him their experiences, and listening to his knowledge of the matter. Yes, we had skeptics in the crowd but everyone respected everyone else’s position on the topic.
The pinnacle of the evening came after it got dark. Several of the younger kids borrowed a flashlight, and kept running through the backyard, up to the wood line. Without fail, one of them would yell that they saw something in the woods, sending the whole group running back to the front porch, screaming at the top of their lungs. Just five minutes later, after catching their breaths, they’d go back to the wood line, and repeat the process. After half an hour, they’d gotten themselves pretty worked up – even screaming that they had seen Bigfoot himself! And, that gave me an idea…
I ran to the basement where my hunting gear is, and put on my ghillie suit. After turning off the garage and carport lights, I snuck around the back of our house, along the neighbors’ yard, and to the edge of our front yard. Once the kids were all back on the front porch, recovering from their latest self-induced Bigfoot scare … guess what came running out of the darkness toward them?! Their screams were likely heard in Chattanooga!!! It was SPECTACULAR! You can watch the video RIGHT HERE.
So, is Bigfoot a real thing? Thousands of people have reported sightings and encounters. What do you think? Share your comments with us at the bottom of the page.
The next evening, Angela received a text from our neighbor up the road. Their largest hog got out of its enclosure and her husband was having trouble getting it to go back in. I grabbed my boots, put on a jacket, and jumped into the truck. When I got to the neighbors’ house, I stepped into a scene of guys running around with large sticks, guys on 4-wheelers, and a 500-pound hog doing everything it could to escape the madness. This behemoth wasn’t going to be pushed or dragged back into its pen. He was going to have to be chased back to the gate, and go in on his own accord.
Our neighbor had decided to build the enclosure in the woods. So, don’t picture us chasing this pig around cleared farmland. That’s only half the property. The monster hog chose to lead us through the other half – the woods. And, in those woods, the terrain sloped down for about 100 feet to a creek bed, and then back up. It had gotten dark. I had nothing but a small headlamp with dying batteries. Outside the wood line, the ATV folks kept riding around, shining their bright headlights into the woods, blinding us. And, we were chasing this gigantic swine down one slope, and up the other. We would try to corner it, and he would run past us, and the whole thing would start again.
Now, for you city slickers who don’t know – pigs CAN kill and eat you. They just have to be hungry or angry enough. And, a 500-pound pig can easily break bones if he steps on your foot, or decides to run through you rather than around you.
The evening wore on. We chased that pig back up the slope, through thorn bushes and the rocky creek, then back down the slope. Up the slope. Down the slope. After about 45 minutes, the hog made an end-run around us, and broke off to the north, into thicker woods that we couldn’t get into at night. It was just too dense and thorny. I jumped into my truck, and followed an ATV out to the road to head him off so he wouldn’t come out of the woods, cross the road and escape. My neighbor finally walked up, and said the pig would likely remain there through the night because he would feel safe there. Eventually, he would get hungry or lonely, and head back to the pen to join the other pigs. I headed home, only to find out that one other neighbor decided he wasn’t ready to give up. He went in alone, swatted the pig on the butt, and the pig ran back to the enclosure – without anyone chasing him, and no loud ATVs scaring him. They opened the gate, and the panting, sweating (yes, they do sweat), and physically drained pig went on in. It was one of those “You gotta be S***ing me!” moments.
Two days later, we got another call. Our neighbor hadn’t fixed the pig gate yet and now all 8 pigs were out. I pulled on my boots, strapped on my gun (I hadn’t yet made up my mind if it was for the pigs or the neighbor), and headed out. Fortunately, this time, we had the mama pig as the Queen chess piece. My neighbor got a rope around her waist, and I lassoed her around the neck. As we dragged her across the yard, all her offspring followed. Even the 500-pound daddy pig monitored our progress. I wasn’t sure if he was going to charge us to defend his lady’s honor. I let my neighbor know that, in the event of such an occurrence, I was going to draw my pistol, and declare it “butchering day” right then and there.
Wee were able to drag the mother pig back to the pen with much loud squealing and resistance. The young pigs went right in the gate to be with mama. But, the big male hog decided to take to the woods again. Luckily for us, Halloween was past, and my neighbor had several pumpkins left on the porch. Pigs LOVE pumpkin! So, we broke up the pumpkins, and threw a bunch of the pieces into the back of the enclosure to keep the herd busy. Then, my neighbor went to the big pig with a nice, big chunk. It took just one bite to turn my neighbor into the Pied Piper. That hog followed him all the way back to the gate, and into the enclosure.
With all the inmates rounded back up and the escape over, I told my neighbor to go get his tools, and I would help him fix that danged gate so this wouldn’t happen again.
In our previous issue of WritersWeekly, Angela told you about the distant fire on Lookout Mountain and the closer, small fire on the mountain directly across from our backyard.
Well, it was only a few days after those were brought under control that I woke up, and went out to the back porch to greet the day. And, that’s when I noticed not one, but FOUR different plumes of smoke coming up from Lawson Mountain – the one right next to ours. Four different fires were burning, all near the bottom of the mountain in the hollow, and all near the road that winds through the hollow. I knew these couldn’t be a natural event. The location and spacing were just too unique. And, three of those fires were directly behind our property, less than 1/2 mile from us.
I woke Angela and Mason up and that started a day of Hell for us. The fires the previous week were marked by cautious fascination. But, as these things quickly grew, and joined each other, our apprehension morphed into intense fear. These were far too close. All it would take was a change in the direction of the wind for the inferno to come into our backyard. We hurriedly packed clothes, and gathered vital documents. I hooked my hunting camper up to my truck and we got things staged up to evacuate.
During all of these fire incidents, I used my DJI drone to do periodic flyovers to monitor the fires’ progress, and to keep the neighbors updated with up-to-the-minute videos and pictures. During the single fire the week before, I’d spotted the big flatbed trailer of one Forestry bulldozer. This time, however, I spotted four. Four bulldozers and dozens of forestry vehicles parked up and down the little road that traverses the hollow. I knew this wasn’t going to be a cakewalk. And, that was just the beginning.
We were getting text and video updates on Facebook from Emergency Management Services. The amount of smoke was astronomical. Schools in town weren’t letting children outside and there were warnings for people with asthma and other lung problems. We had a front row seat to watch all of those fires slowly get closer and closer together, and turn into one HUGE one.
As the day went on, Angela was pretty freaked out. I did the best thing a husband can do, and kept reassuring her that the firefighters would bring the monster under control. Although I didn’t like the looks of the situation, there was no sense in panicking. If the fire changed direction, and headed our way, we were prepared to deal with that. Until then, all we could do was watch – and hope.
Then the news came from Emergency Management Services that they were reaching out to surrounding counties for help. So, that was Dade County fire assets, along with Georgia Forestry Division needing additional help from other municipalities in the region. That didn’t help our nerves.
The fire burned throughout the day, creeping further and further up Lawson Mountain. As night fell, we could see the glow of the flames in the forest. Then, we realized we had another problem.
We live on a private road. Neighbors were reporting seeing one car after another driving through our neighborhood that didn’t belong there. We had gawkers showing up to try and see the fire. That, in and of itself, although kind of rude and insensitive to all of us worrying about our homes , was not a huge problem. The biggest concern was that the Emergency Management Director had already announced that these fires appeared to have been deliberately set. We still had an arsonist on the loose!!
There is so much wooded property in and around our neighborhood that it would be easy to start another fire closer to our houses. Additionally, our road leads to a cul-de-sac that is surrounded by woods and that no one can see from their homes. It is the perfect place for a fire bug to perform his dirty deeds without detection. One of Angela’s friends had come over with her daughter to see the fire because she lives further back from the bluff where she couldn’t fully see how big – and close – it was.
We were all sitting on the back porch watching the flames consume the mountain when I went to the side of the house and noticed, sure enough, one car, then another, and then another come slowly driving down the road. Each car disappeared into the undeveloped area of the cul-de-sac, then came slowly back up the road. No one could see the fire from that area because of the lower elevation and all of the woods blocking their view. But, I was still worried. Which of these cars might contain the arsonist who was certainly getting his jollies watching the fruits of his handiwork?
I decided someone had to keep an eye on the neighborhood, or all our homes would be in danger. So, I armed myself, hopped in my truck, and made it a point to fall in behind every car that came down our road, and follow them all the way down to the turnaround, and all the way back out to the main road. I can imagine it made most of the rubber-neckers nervous to realize they were being followed. One guy pulled over, and turned on his flashers, hoping I’d drive by him. No suck luck. The old cop in me kicked in. I grabbed my MagLite from the door pocket, stepped out, and approached the car on foot.
The driver hollered back to me, “Can I help you?”
I inquired if he was lost and if I could help him find someone. He claimed to be a photojournalist looking to get pictures of the fire. I politely informed him that there was nowhere to see the fire from the roadway. Additionally, I mentioned, all of the land in this area was private property – including the road – and showed him the nearest spot to turn himself around and leave the area. No sooner did I get myself seated back in my truck, another car came creeping down the street. I fell in behind them, and followed them close enough to spit on their trunk as they made their way back out of the neighborhood. This went on until around 11:30 p.m.
One truck pulled off into a vacant lot (owned by another of our neighbors). I greeted the two young men walking across the property, who let me know that they were just trying to see the fire. After talking a bit, I found out that they were from the Southeastern Lineman School here in Trenton. Our church has an outreach ministry to these guys and they are mostly good kids who are here in school to start a good career. I invited them back to our house and they joined us on our back porch for about a half hour marveling at the flames and the enormity of it all. We made sure to invite them to visit our church before they headed out to try and find another vantage point to look at the fire.
When we could no longer stay awake, we turned in. I woke up at 4:00 a.m., checked the progress of the fire, got in the truck, and drove around the neighborhood again. I also launched my drone again to scan the dark landscape for any signs of flames in our wooded properties. All was quiet and I headed back home.
By morning, Lawson Mountain was still smoking, but the fire had died down. All reports were that it had been contained. Lawson Mountain is privately owned, and is a hunting lease. There are well cleared dirt roads that run along the top of the mountain, and branch off in several directions. The forestry guys used these roads as fire breaks, and were able to bulldoze trenches to strategically direct the fire straight up the mountain. By lighting some back-fires at the top of the mountain, they were able to starve the main fire of fuel, and get it stopped at those hunting roads.
The mountain continued to smoke for another four days but, after the second night, we could no longer see any flames. I forgot to mention that, as all of this was happening, there was also another large fire on Lookout Mountain (6 miles away, as the crow flies) that we could also see from our back porch.
We’re relieved that these fires are out. However, whoever may have set these fires is still out there and we can’t seem to walk out onto our back porch without scanning the landscape for signs of smoke, wondering if we are going to go through this again.
UPDATE: Yesterday, two more fires erupted. One on Brow Road overlooking Trenton, and the other on Lookout Mountain. We suspect the arsonist is still at work. Thankfully, this morning, it started raining for the first time in a month.
Ever been close to a wildfire? Tell us about it in the Comments section below.
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