On the 4th of July, the fire truck came up our lane, siren blaring and lights flashing.
I told them to go away. I had not called them. I had the situation under control. How ungrateful! I know.
I stood with my garden hose, controlling the burning pit. So what if black smoke was billowing skyward? That was just from the tires.
Apparently, some busybody saw the flames and black smoke from the highway a mile away and tattled. Someone cared about us. What do I care!
Getting a burn permit is really complicated. It was way over my head, something I never covered in law school. So, like the heroes in countless westerns, I took the law into my own hands. I would have gotten away with it too, if only the smoke did not rise hundreds of feet. If only no one noticed. If only no one cared.
Sure, if it had been a fire threatening our home or barn, we would have welcomed the help, but this fire was my own controlled burn, started intentionally in order to dispose of scrap lumber and old Christmas trees and branches and stuff we did not want. The county charges to take things to the dump. I was being economical. Burn permits cost too. Like I said, I was being economical, if illegal. I was absent from law school on the day they taught about burn permits. Ignorance of the law is my excuse.
Plus, I’m not that bright. You can ask anybody. My mother can tell you stories of my risk-taking that will curl your hair. Miss Sugar, my wife, can too. Anyone stupid enough to swing a rattlesnake over his head is stupid enough to play with fire. For an explanation of the rattlesnake reference, see: https://cowboylawyer.wordpress.com/2012/06/18/me-and-pecos-bill-5/.
The firemen decided to put out the fire, despite my assurances. They also gave the impression that this was not how they had intended to spend the 4th of July.
If they didn’t want to be there, then why did they empty the tanker truck on my little old fire? Oh, well, at least we got the pond we always wanted. For more on the pond, see: https://cowboylawyer.wordpress.com/2013/06/15/beau-aint-no-lassie/.
Afterward, to rub it in, they parked the truck on the bridge and re-filled the tank by pumping water from the river that runs through our ranch. It took a long time for them to steal our water.
I felt embarrassed. I felt foolish. Miss Sugar assured me that I was just that — foolish.
I apologized to the firemen. I knew them. I used to be on the board for the volunteer fire department. As their attorney, I got grants to purchase the first trucks. (I had attended class on the day they taught about grant applications.) Twenty years ago, I helped build the station, like an old fashioned-barn raising. I lifted the trusses for the roof, using my brawn. They wouldn’t trust me with power tools. So, I have a long history with this local volunteer fire department.
That might be why they gave me a break. I was not cited. I was not billed. I was lucky. I was sorry.
I wrote a letter to the fire department, in which I thanked them and apologized profusely. I was repentant. Sort of.
This happened several years ago. After all the wildfires last year, even I know better than to burn trash when the grass is dry. Next time, I will wait until it snows and keep the tires away from the fire. However, I won’t get a burn permit. That is where I draw the line.