Not in the Plan

I sat at my friends’ home in Doi Saket, Thailand last Saturday.  It was my last day in country.  We’d decided a quiet day was in order.

We planned to rest, read, pack, maybe watch a movie.  Nothing strenuous had made it into our plans.  My flight was scheduled for 11:55 PM, and I was good with that and a peaceful day.

Things were on track to accomplish the day as planned.  About 2 PM it started to smell like Colorado this past summer . . . that would be burning wood.  I checked the house.  I looked out the windows on three sides of the house.  There was nothing to see.  I went back to reading my book.

Soon a noise like gunfire started assaulting my ears.  I wasn’t OK with that.  I have issues with gunfire.

About the same time, my friend, Lana, came out of her room and said, “What’s going on?”  She ran to a different set of windows and found the answer.  The vegetation at the edge of an adjoining property was on fire.

The very green bamboo and other plants that had been watered by months of rain was exploding and burning.  Some of the bamboo was easily 40 feet tall.  While it was comforting to know no one was firing a gun, I wasn’t too thrilled to see the world burning so close to home.

Another comforting thought was that there is a creek separating the two properties.  That comfort didn’t last.  It didn’t take too long for some of the bamboo to topple and bring the fire to our side of the creek.

We grabbed the garden hose and started soaking things before the bamboo fell.  At the same time, a neighbor came over and grabbed a bucket and tried to dip water from the creek to help with the soaking.  Neither of the hoses reached very far. Definitely not far enough to get to the area where the fire spread to our side.

I ran back in the house and grabbed a large bucket/trash can and snagged another bucket from the carport.  We started a rather crude but effective bucket brigade.  With the neighbor filling the buckets and Lana throwing water on the fire, I made more than a few trips back and forth with the buckets.  About as soon as we had the small fire on our side out, the firemen arrived.

There were two of them with a truck with its own reservoir.  They checked out what we accomplished, and then went to work on the fire across the creek.  They worked hard to keep enough pressure in the fire hose to get the water to span the distance.  They ran out of water before the fire ran out of fuel.

They made a trip back into town to refill the truck.  While they were gone, the village head and a few other people showed up.  Once the truck returned, they helped with some different nozzles and different techniques.  By the time the truck was empty a second time, there was still some smolder left, but everyone was satisfied that the fire didn’t have a real chance of spreading.

It put my mind even more at ease when I saw the neighbor across the creek hauling buckets of water to pour on whatever was left.

Being a volunteer firefighter wasn’t part of my plans for the day, but it’s part of my memory of the day.


What’s happened to you lately that wasn’t part of your plans, but became a rich memory?



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