Our church is about 20 miles south of town in a small west Texas town. On our way to service tonight as we were leaving town we were surprised to see a small grass fire in the ditch along the side of the road. A bunch of vehicles had stopped and people were out there stamping out the fire with their feet and pouring soda on it, or whatever they had in their vehicles. It wasn't a very big fire, maybe 10 foot by 10 foot and the situation looked pretty much under control. All the same, I still called the fire dept as we drove on.
About 10 minutes farther down the road I saw a Roman candle go off in the distance, maybe a mile or so ahead of us. This is very odd because we don't see fireworks often here. They're highly regulated because this part of the state is extremely dry. It's like a giant tinderbox. By the time we arrived where we saw the fireworks, there was a significant brush fire going. One pickup had pulled over. No one else was around, so we stopped to see if there was anything we could do.
I grabbed the big 4 foot floor mat from the back of the van while Anna dialed 911. The guys in the pickup had put the fire out on one side of the road, but it had jumped the road and had burned 50 - 75 feet of the opposite ditch. They told me they didn't think we'd be able to do much. The fire was spreading quickly to the fence line and a big stand of mesquite trees on the other side. I ran across the road and began to smother the fire with the floor mat. (It's the big heavy, rubber all weather type.) This worked surprisingly well, probably due to the fact that Anna was back in the van praying the fire would go out. It didn't take too long to stop the fire from spreading further south. The wind was blowing north pretty good, and the fire was still spreading that direction, with some pretty good sized flames licking the top of the fence posts. By this time the guys in the pickup realized that we might have a chance at putting it out and jumped in to help. It took us several more minutes to get the rest of it, and a few fence posts had been lit up really well. The mat got pretty hot and I think it's ruined, but we put out the fire, saved the fence, and kept it from spreading to some innocent rancher's pasture. That was a pretty good feeling.
After we had the fire mostly out, the guys told me that they had been driving down the road when some idiot in front of them tossed a roman candle out the window right in front of them and basically fire-bombed the ditch. About this time, the Sheriff pulled up and we told him what happened. He took off about 100 mph down the road and was soon followed by two deputies. I went back to the van and realized that we still had 6 minutes to make it to church on time. I wreaked pretty bad, but we went ahead and went. After we cracked a few jokes about being baptized with fire, we had a really good service.
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