|Folks waiting to escape a forest fire|
Ralph, a Mission pilot, flew over our house while he was flying south on his way back to the Mission headquarters in Red Lake. He saw a fire southwest of us that has been burning for the last several days. We had been noticing the smoke from that fire. He radioed us to update the fire's condition.
The men of the local First Nations community of Pikangikum were very good fire-fighters. The government agency responsible to fight forest fires often depended on men from these communities to be available to help. For that reason, at this time most of the local men were not at at home. They were somewhere helping to put out forest forest. Their wives and children had the responsibility of the issues at home. The men were paid well, but usually did not get paid until the forest fire they were working on was out or at least under control. After that they were flown back home with their pay check.
A forest fire can travel rapidly the direction the wind is blowing. It travels faster than a person can run. Added to that a fire creates its own wind. This is especially true when pine trees are burned. The pine needles burn quickly and very hot. The fire is also spread out ahead of the flames by sparks flying in the smoke and being dropped to the ground far ahead of the flames. A fire usually does not stop when it burns to a river. The sparks ignite dry grass or leaves on the ground on the far side of the river.
That evening a meeting at the church was planned for a time of prayer. The prayer time was prompted because the ladies had already discovered and experienced salvation and the Lordship of Jesus Christ in all kinds of life experiences. They wanted to pray now for the protection of their husbands and fathers. This was the evening to get together to pray and pray earnestly!
It was true what our pilot friend had mentioned that the fire is travelling in exactly the direction toward the community we were living in. In fact it could travel toward the west side of the lake. The local Native's houses were on the east side of the lake. Our house was one and a quarter mile across the lake, on the west side.
There was a bar of dry sand between our house and the mainland. Due to the fact that the pilot tried to assure us that at the speed the fire was travelling in our direction, "it probably not be there for another day or two!" That was not what we had hoped he would say.
It created a time of decisions. The fire may or may not come to where we were. If it does, should we bury a few of our possessions in the sand to keep them from burning? That didn't sound very wise. Furthermore it is time to get into the boat and cross the lake to the church house where the Native ladies and some children will be to pray. After all, God knows everything and He cares for His people, and their possessions.
We crossed the lake and met with the ladies. There were earnest prayers, for the men fighting other fires, for the families at home, and for the fire that was coming toward us. God heard all those prayers. After the meeting we stepped out of the church building expecting, or at least hoping to see rain to put out the local fire. We would have gladly boated back home in a rain, even a heavy rain, without a roof over our heads in the boat. There was no sign of rain in sight! The meeting was over and everyone went home still trusting the Lord in all situations.
Two things were taking place, the dark smoke was still blowing in our direction and the darkness of the night was coming fast. We actually had a good night of sleep and woke up in the morning and saw rain falling from the sky. We had been having rain during the night, as well ad during the day and there was no more smoke. The fire was completely out! Thank You Lord for the whole experience and the answers to prayer.
The local men were still at other fires, working hard to put the forest out. But that is another story.
Our God is the ultimate firemen!