Wednesday, October 14, 2009

An explosive Night.... in Keji

This is the second installment of our Keji weekend. One of those events that needs it own blog entry.
I didn't want to start off with this story, because I don't want it to represent the whole weekend, but it certainly will be something I will never forget, and it also did taint the weekend.

Let me begin with the end of the last blog. After supper, we moved back to our tent sites and put out our fun pumpkins...
Tradition at Keji on this weekend is that on Saturday night, after dark, people take to the roads on foot (and some in cars) to walk around the campground admiring the pumpkin creations.
Our gang gathered in front of my site, to head out shortly after 7:30 and started down the hill. I realized that we were going against the flow of traffic and turned to start up the hill and mentioned to everyone else that we should be going the other way. When I looked a head of us.. I saw the first explosion straight ahead of me, two sites away on the opposite side of the road. It was a fire ball that was about 6 feet wide and about 10 feet high. It was an unnatural fire, not a campfire. As I watched, I was speechless and I realized that no one else saw this. As it began to die down, there was a second and more terrifying explosion and this one had a whoosh sound that when along with it.The second explosion ignited a fire that was 6 feet wide and climbed to the top of these exact trees. Everyone saw that fire, and we watched, in shock and the curls of fire rose up over 40 feet, and dance around the leaves at the top of those trees. And then mayhem began. People started running, some in the direction of the fire, and others ran away from it. I stood very still and hollered for people to keep their kids away... makes sense wouldn't you say, but it was amazing how many let their kids move towards the fire. Jill's hubby, Mel ran to the fire, along with a few other men. Along the road, every few hundred feet, there are fire hose and hydrants, and there just happened to be one at the very next site. I never notice these before.... I certainly do now. Just as the men made their way to the fire, the camper that was parked at this site, was driven out onto the road, ripping its jacks off the bottom, and the awning off the site.. The owner parked it, right in the road, blocking any chance of escape for others who were driving. He luckily had a CO2 extinguisher which was used to settle down the flames.
As I watched, standing there, with my arms around Roselyn, I chanted over and over again in her ear, that everything was ok, and that those people would put out the fire, no problem. I seriously believed this, with all my heart. And true to my faith, those men had the fire out and watered down within 10 minutes.
A crowd of people stood there, relieved, confused and in shock. As realization swept over all of us, and smatterings of truth about what happen began to surface.... terror started to fill all of us. A splash of gasoline to ignite a stubborn fire, a leaky gas can, a spark on a splash from tripping over a generator cord... beer cans scattered all over the ground....
The rain that soaked the entire campground for the past 24 hours was our savior that night. The flames didn't catch those leaves and needles, but not for a lack of trying. Fear turned to anger and also to worry. Well after we were safe from fire, the fear crept into all of us. Even though we gathered our wits about us, and began our walk around the park to view pumpkins, there was a overcast feeling over us all. You start to think about what did happen, what could have happened.. what would we have done... how fast would it have spread. We all started to get cold and we cut our walk short and headed back to the campfires. We sat for a while but then we all went off to bed. None slept well, and for me, I listened for any sound that might have been an explosion. I listened to the partying crowd down the other way for me, and worried that they might do something stupid... I wondered if it happened a few roads away, would someone warn us.. what if it happened in the middle of the night... soooo many worries. I planned on packing it in, and going home the next day... I just couldn't settle.. But, the next morning, things seems clearer... less terrifying.. I walked up to site that was now empty. The campers were moved to another location. Park rangers, environmental people and laborers were up and down the road all evening.. but in the morning... it was quiet.
Leaves had been raked up and taken away, chemicals were sprayed over the site and the awning was gone. I walked around the site, took pictures and looked at the blackened trunks of the trees. Eventually, the rest of the day would be a sea of activity at that site. Bulldozers would dig out all the contaminated soils, the trees were torn up. Park rangers interviewed all the surrounding campers and rumors flew through the park.
But at that moment, while I stood there on that site, I thought about the people who were right there when that explosion happened. They had a child there with them, and two dogs. They were just feet away... the sound...the smell.... the heat. The night before, I hated these people.. for being idiots, endangering so many peoples lives... but now.. I realized how absolutely horrifying it had to have been for them as well.. and how lucky they were to have not gotten
hurt. Whatever really happened... wasn't on purpose. It was a careless accident... that truly endangered my family, my friends and an entire park of campers. This event did not dominate the weekend, but it certainly dampened it.
None of us were really successful at taking pictures that night of the pumpkins but I did score a couple that were of a wonderful carving of the characters from Twilight, carved by friends of mine, Jaimie, Dale and Libby Clark.. pretty impressive... They won 5th place...

1 comment:

cpm said...

OMG! How terrifying! Thank goodness you were far enough away to not be immediate danger.