Oklahoma is plagued with wildfires every year. This week the weatherfolk cautioned us about the Extremely High fire danger caused by high winds and low humidity. Last evening the wind shifted just before sunset, and smoke from a fire in the next county drifted into the valleys behind us, coloring the sunset.

Smoke colors the sunset.

Only once have we been threatened by wildfire. I looked out the kitchen window to see smoke blowing up the road, and the smell was thick and heavy. The wind shifted almost as soon as I discovered the smoke, so we were fortunate. The fire was just over a mile from us.

A few years ago someone stopped at my front gate and said "your horses are on the road." I thanked him and went out to get them, only to find that they weren't mine. Eight sorrel horses were grazing on the grass at the side of our dirt road. I knew no one on our road had eight sorrel horses, but I called around to see if someone knew their owner. No one did. Unfortunately I had no place to put them, even if I were able to catch them one at a time and move them, so there was nothing I could do but pray that they would be safe. After a near miss with a car that crested our hill and a driver that wasn't paying close attention to the road, I called the county sheriff to report them. By the time the sheriff arrived the horses had drifted off, back down the road in the direction they had come. I'm convinced they were displaced by a large wildfire a month earlier, and I hope that their owner was eventually able to find them. Who knows how far they might have wandered in a month.

A fire behind the ridge

Fire has always terrified me. Then we had the barn fire, and strangely enough I'm calmer about wildfires now. On days when we have Extremely High fire danger, I keep a close eye on the horizon. If I see smoke, I determine the wind direction by facing the wind and turning slightly until I have the wind blowing directly onto my face. If the fire is not in my field of vision, I tell myself that we aren't in danger. If I can smell the smoke, and can see the plume in front of me, I'm on alert and keep a close eye on the situation. We do have an evacuation plan.

The possibility of wildfire is only one reason why we bought property with more than "one way out". I don't think I'll ever live on a dead-end road. From our current home we can evacuate in two directions and then within a mile, in four directions.

Do you have an evacuation plan in case of emergency? Have you ever had to use it?

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