Fire, it Cleans your Yard

Well my goodness, did we have an exciting day today. It’s the dry season here and brush fires are very common. Our house is beside a wooded area and my neighbors swore that there never has been a fire there. But, there have been fires across the street, up the hill, and so many other areas close by that I became concerned. In the past I have left the many fallen leaves on the ground thinking they would offer the grass some protection from the scorching sun. When the rains returned, then I would clean up the yard. About a week ago though, I began cleaning the yard. Thank goodness I did or it could have been worse.

There is a big cliff right outside our fence. The land goes down to a flat area below and then to the river. Last night I could hear fire popping and see some fire down below, but the neighbors assured me that it was far and wouldn’t do anything up here. By the time I went to bed it looked like the fire was moving west, away from our house. When my husband returned about 3AM from the music festival, he said there were flames at the end of the street but not next to our yard. I learned later that my neighbor across was up at 4AM dousing the flames outside our fence with water. When I got up this morning everything was fairly quiet. The area at the end of the street was smoldering but I didn’t see anything else going on.

The winds were calm until a bit after noon when they started to blow a bit, not hard, but enough to get the fire going again. It seemed like no time at all and the woods were popping and crackling down below and I became concerned. I ran a quick errand and when I returned it looked like there was a volcano of smoke coming from our yard! The fire had advanced to the other side of our fence, and it wasn’t long before it jumped to the leaf pile (now I know whey people here don’t make leaf piles!!) and it also started burning any other leaves and dried plant material it could find. It jumped into the neighbors yard and burned up to beside her house, and it also advanced across the street to the woods behind those neighbor’s houses. There was a big fire there not long ago so I’m not sure what more could be burned but there must have been enough to do it again.

Of course we were busy with the water hose and buckets of water (there is more than one reason to have a swimming pool, even a little one!). But, I did manage to get a couple photos during it, and then more later.

The bomberos (firemen) took a while to arrive. Even when they come they aren’t able to do very much. They strap water containers on their back and squirt perimeters of property or in our case, hot spots where they found them. They did come in our yard and our neighbor’s yard though, to squirt anything they found still smoldering or burning.

I suppose this is one way to clean up the place. There was a small area of our yard that I hadn’t finished cleaning but it’s done now. I can see into the woods better than I ever have before, and the corner outside our fence that needed to be cleaned up is also done. All the yard trash the everyone dumps at the end of the street is also gone. But, I don’t think I would recommend doing this on purpose!

Thankfully the houses are made of block and metal roofs so the houses aren’t going to burn. I’m not too happy about the yard though. I know most, if not all the plants will recover and regrow but they sure look pitiful at the moment. We have a ton of lemons too, so we’ll see if smoked lemons work as well as the usual ones. I have also learned more words related to fires including limones ahumados (smoked lemons).

Tonight all is quiet except for a couple instances of something crashing in the woods. My neighbor thinks the fire has weakened some trees and they are now falling down. I can’t see anything from here, but we’ll see what tomorrow brings. I am going to continue to keep the yard cleaned up as much as I can, just in case. I wonder if this will change the amount of dry leaves that seem to rain down on us from the woods every time the wind kicks up.

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About Kris Cunningham

We live in David, Chiriqui Provence, Republic of Panama! This blog is about some of our experiences in our new country.
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14 Responses to Fire, it Cleans your Yard

  1. oldsalt1942 says:

    Wow!

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  2. cAROLE says:

    Glad your house was spared. The plants will grow back, but at least you don’t have to clean your yard.

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    • Thankfully there are no flammable parts to the house, only concrete and metal. The plants may be better for it in the long run, but there is an endless supply of leaves falling in the yard. The main source, a huge tree just past the fence looks like it was totally spared from damage.

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  3. Rona True says:

    Nature has its way! Nice to have a better view of the woods, although it must have been quite scary at the time. The soil loves the ash and is probably already starting to show sprouts. I expect we will have a similar experience here at some point.

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    • It was scary when the fire starting coming into our yard. It sure moved fast! But it all worked out and it’s probably better overall that the area got cleaned up. Thanks for the tip about the soil. I didn’t know if the burned leaf pile would be a good thing or if we should get rid of it. I’ll continue to use it as the compost pile, but maybe put the rest of the dry leaves outside the yard until the rains come back.

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  4. indacampo says:

    It will all grow back greener than ever in no time. I always think about the people who have asthma or COPD at this time of year. They must suffer because most everywhere you go there is a haze of smoke. Eric is out every day cleaning up dropped leaves although we can’t do much about the vecinos properties. Nothing like a fire to bring the neighborhood together. 😊

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    • It must be awful for people with breathing problems, especially if they don’t have any space with AC where they can escape. Even the rest of us are tired of coughing and smelling smoke. Nothing like a great neighborhood that works together! I really appreciate that here.

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  5. Suzanne says:

    So glad your safe! What a frightening experience. We had a similar experience on our land outside Glacier National park in Montana several years ago. I will never forget seeing the fire in the trees!

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    • Thanks! We were never in any danger and could have walked away at any time. At worst maybe our plastic tables and chairs outdoors could have been damaged. I didn’t want the yard burned up though, and the fruit trees and plants.

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  6. Great report and great pictures. Except for the smoke it felt like we were there. I was in David today and around Price Smart it was very smokey.

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  7. Sunni Morris says:

    You’re lucky your house won’t burn. That’s too close for comfort. Hope everything is back to normal now.

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    • Things were still smoldering in the woods last night and with the winds picking up again, my neighbor and I were out there with our boots, flashlights, and buckets of water. All seems quiet this morning though, so it looks like we got the job done.

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