Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Fire, fire, everywhere!

In recent days I have been disheartened after reading story after story of wild fires that are burning up parts of my homeland.  Fires primarily started by nature (lightning strikes).  Fires out of control.  Fires fueled by dry grasses, trees, strong winds and hot temperatures. And, unfortunately, fueled by wooden structures and homes (which makes me sick to my stomach).  We had our own little fire on Ebeye Island this month, too. On July 9.   It was nothing to match the power of these wild fires, but it burned all the same! It seems I just can't get escape the powerful grasp of this act of nature.  Even on a little island in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, surrounded by water.

I grew up in a small town in the United States of America.  More specifically, out west in the small town of Ephrata, Washington.  (Yay, go TIGERS!)  It is smack dab in the middle of the state.  I still say it's one of the best places to be raised as a kid!  Small town, USA.  Central Washington.  I lived there for all 18 of my growing up years.  It was a town surrounded by farming land and fresh air (some of it country fresh air, if you know what I mean!).  Right now that little town is surrounded by wild fires.  Thousands of acres burning out of control.  Thick smoke hazing the skies, turning the sun into an orange orb, and polluting the air.

 The worst fires are further north just off the Columbia River where homes have been lost and lives have been forever changed.  Firefighters are desperately fighting the flames (kudos to the gallant and brave people who work so tirelessly and put their lives on the line).  Despite their best efforts those fires continue to spread, and the thick smoke works through the land for miles and miles and miles.  Even if you don't live close to the fire, it feels like you do as you choke on the thick polluted air.

There are also fires raging near the town where I have lived my entire married life (except for the past year that we have lived in the Marshall Islands).  Boise, Idaho.  That is still in the western part of the United States, but a little further south and east.  Fires there are raging in the desert and in the mountains.  Friends complaining of the poor quality of air, being cautioned to stay indoors.   It seems like fire is touching lives of many loved ones, near and far.

Then, just this month, we experienced our own little fire on our little 80 acre island of Ebeye.  We have very few restaurants here on this island.  One, is at the Hotel Ebeye, the second is the fast food area in the Triple J Department store, and the third WAS La Bojies, or the "Sit N' Eat", as we referred to it.
In front of La Bojie's restaurant.  The 2nd floor was where a church held it's meetings

Whenever we had visitors from Kwajalein or Majuro we would often go out for lunch or dinner, and we usually ended up at the Sit N' Eat.  You could order a large variety of items, including Yakisoba noodles, Chow Mein, Sashimi, Lumpia, sandwiches, and yes, hamburgers and fries!
lunch with some of the Kwaj ladies, Kathy Skinner, Terry Edelen, Hillary Whatcott, and Alison Sok
Whenever the Marshall Islands Majuro Mission President, President Weir, and his wife came to visit, we would end our Saturday activities dining at this restaurant.  I even had the "pleasure" of a little mouse running back and forth behind me next to the wall while I was eating my dinner.  It made it a little hard to finish my meal, to say the least. And to not shriek!  In fact, I think that's about when I lost my appetite.  But I did not yell or make a scene.  

Sad to say, we were woken up early one day this month by our sister missionaries, Sister Tafili and Sister Chamings, around 6:30 am.  The fire started due to an electrical short, and the whole building went down in flames.  All two stories. July 9, 2014

Miraculously, there were no injuries. And even more miraculous, it was the only structure that burned down!  I thought for sure the whole neighborhood was going to burn down.  The houses are built so close together, often with no gap in between with portions made with dry, dry wood.  I felt certain the fire would take off and make it all the way to our apartment complex, which fortunately is a concrete structure. Fortunate for us, the wind was blowing west into the lagoon.  If it had been blowing south we would have been doomed!  We have no fire department, so most of us just watched it burn to the ground.   Aided with a back hoe, a water tanker, and a few hoses, they were able to contain the flames to the single piece of property.  Farewell Sit N' Eat!
View from the roof of our apartment building, with a sea of houses in between us and the fire.

Going up in flames.  The rain was pouring down and the wind was whipping!
Street view of the fire.  You can see what's left of the entrance.

Bull dozed with nothing left to salvage

Our hard working missionaries helping with the water brigade on the lagoon side.
still smouldering hours later.
 That evening  we decided to take a walk down to the site of the fire.  It hadn't even been 12 hours since the fire started.  What we saw was amazing.  They had bull dozed the fire to the back of the lot, along the lagoon side.  Fire was still smouldering in the back, but that did not stop their progress.  They had put down cement barriers and were moving in a silver trailer (one the King owned) on a crane for those displaced by the fire.  AMAZING!  This just shows you, when the right person wants something done, things can happen fast. 

I'm not sure what is more crazy.  The fire or bringing in the trailer!

strapping it on!
here comes the trailer!

swinging it into place!  yikes!

Watch out for that house!
can you spot the fire still smouldering, right behind the trailer?

Mission accomplished!  New home for the fire victims delivered less than 12 hours after the fire started!

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