If you’ve never seen a brush fire up close, I can tell you, it’s really something to see.
A few days ago we had a brush fire in the San Gabriel Mountains in the Glendora and Azusa area. From my house, I not only see the smoke covering the skies, I can even smell it. It started as a small little fire at the bottom of a valley but it grew so fast and burned close to 2000 acres.
I remember very clearly when we had our own fire here in the Altadena area a few years ago. It started a few miles away but in just a day, the mountain close to us was on fire. I had absolutely no idea, but when I looked up north to the mountains from the back part of the house I saw flames burning up trees in just seconds. It was like tongues of fire dancing, like an invisible fire breathing dragon, angry and vehement aiming for total destruction. Because of the three digit temperature, the fire snaked through the ridges and valleys. Embers, like fireworks jumping from one tree to another.
Helicopters, fireplanes, fire trucks – all types of noise covered the surrounding towns. I was not able to sleep the first night. As the temperature was so hot, our sliding door in our bedroom was opened to let air in. But it didn’t take long when the wind blew in our direction and filled our bedroom with thick smoke.
The conditions were just right for a fire – it was dry and the temperatures were around 105 degrees. Although there wasn’t much wind, yet the fire devoured all the dry timber, grass and brush. It just kept going, working its way down and up the mountains mercilessly. The further up the hill it went, the more the air caught it, the bigger the fire got. Fire engines and police cars shut down several streets. My kids and I watched all of these from our rooftop. Their faces transfixed at the surreal sight.
As white and gray smoke blew over and filled our neighborhood, the orange and yellow flames ate up leaves and branches on all parts of the mountain ranges, whipping up onto the trees, getting as high as thirty feet tall, charring tree roots and turning several trees orange. We were not in serious danger, although we were ready to evacuate at the moments’ notice. But it was fascinating to watch up close. Two things stayed with me: first, the sound of the fire as it ate up the lush brush and tree covering. When you see wildfires on television, you don’t really hear the sound, don’t smell the smoke and don’t feel the heat. It was louder than I imagined with this kind of crackling sound – and second, how quickly the fire can move and how much momentum it gains in a very short period of time. I’m still amazed at how far it got up the mountain in a short time.
The saying, “spread like wild fire” has a whole new meaning for me now.
But there is another kind of fire that spread faster than this. I have to admit that I was very anxious as the head of the household of nine people at that time with my mother in law (74 years old) and my mom (86 years old). So, I quickly sent an email to my yahoo group, church family and Facebook friends asking for prayers. These are my high school and church friends living all over the world. In just a matter of minutes, I started receiving phone calls, emails and facebook notes from them. Everyone was offering prayers. It was amazing! I got messages from New Zealand, Hongkong, New York, the Philippines and Canada. Those who live a few miles away were offering to help us for possible evacuation. A High School friend of mine who lives in Las Vegas even offered me to evacuate to his mom’s house in another city far from the fires. He did not know that there were 10 people in my household!
This fire that spread so quickly was a fire of different sort. A fire fueled by friendship and compassion. This is a fire that jumped from one continent to another. All I can say is that; when we go through fiery challenges in life, don’t forget that there are people out there who truly care.
Most importantly, we have a God who cares. We live in a world that is not all dark and evil. There are good people who live in the light. There are people who care, comfort and love. As often is the case, when we pray, God hears. He sends people to help. Matthew 6: 25-26 “Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they?” My friends, God cares.
If this message touches you, let us then set this “fire” that loves, serves and gives blaze in our hearts. Let this be a love that is so powerful that nothing in this world can stop it.