Fire in the Woods

We came home Saturday night to this. This is the woods across the street from us, behind our neighbors’ houses. It is supposed to be dark. There is not supposed to be this red glow.


It is summer, dry season, and it hasn’t rained for weeks. Everything is getting more and more dry and these brush fires are starting to pop up. No one seems to know how they get started and the general opinion is that they are started by people for reasons not understood. This woods burned twice last year so I knew immediately what was going on when I saw the red glow.

The wind was blowing mainly from the far right side of the woods to the left, but it was still pushing the fire towards our neighborhood. The light intensified, and soon we could see flames. Before long it was close to the property line of the people across the street. It made for some beautiful photos but otherwise it was not a welcome sight.

At first I wondered why people were so meticulous about keeping their yards clean of leaves and debris. Now I know it’s because they don’t want anything that burns near their houses and property. This night the water pressure was so low that there wasn’t enough water to fight the fire. What kept the fire away was the excellent cleaning job. There was nothing for the fire to burn as it came close.

Panamanian houses are they are made of concrete block and tin roofs, and none of that burns. I have seen more serious fires that burn the shrubbery and send showers of cinders down on homes, but the houses don’t catch on fire. The people mainly don’t want to lose plants and trees in the yard and of course they would rather not breath smoke and ash. But, the risk of property loss is much lower here because of the construction materials and diligent removal of anything burnable in the yards.

Today, I went to see how things look in the woods.

It’s been a crazy few days! First we had the tree come down. We were supposed to go to the Jazz and Blues festival in Boquete on Friday night but the weather was terrible up there, high winds and lots of rain (we had a lot of wind too but none of the rain). Saturday we did go to the festival but came home to the fire. Sunday we went to the festival again, and today (Monday) was cleanup day for the downed tree. We have been having so much fun! Well, not so much with the tree and the fire, but everything else has been great. Now I need a little time to catch up before the next adventures start.


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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10 Responses to Fire in the Woods

  1. Hi Kris
    I am thankful no one got hurt or lost property in the fire. I wondered about all the work I see with people racking up leaves and taking them away. Now I know the reason.
    Adventures are good as long as they are the Winnie the Pooh kind. I’ve been enjoying some wonderful adventures myself.
    I am continuously amazed at how helpful and friendly people are here.



  2. jim and nena says:

    Hola Kris,
    Never a dull moment! 🙂
    The farmers burn off fields in the dry season. In the old Canal Zone when the USA was there, they did controlled (more or less) burns to remove all the plant growth. In the rainy season that would all have to be cut down by hand. Unfortunately, the dry season is also when the winds are strongest. The military burned off marijuana crops in the zone when they found them. It made for lots of happy field workers! We drove a convoy through one of those once near the Pedro Miguel Locks, looked like a vehicular conga line before we got everyone through there.


  3. peggyjoan42 says:

    Wow, never ending excitement for you. Smart way to build houses that are fire proof. Glad that no one was hurt in the fire. We have a tin roof, but our house has wooden walls. We have many burn bans in our area. Luckily it is raining today and some county burn bans have been ended.


  4. Sunni Morris says:

    Very smart to build houses that are fire proof. We hvae many fires later in the year due to the high temps that dry everything out. In CA they used to say it was arson but here they say it’s dry lightning strikes, which makes no sense because it doesn’t rain for months once summer gets here.

    Fire makes for pretty pictures but can be dangerous.


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