Friday, July 15, 2022

Things you don't want to hear when you are in Physical Therapy

There I was, in the middle of a Physical Therapy session about 20 minutes from where I live.

If memory serves, I was standing heel-toe on top of a 2" tall block of squishy foam attempting to maintain my balance.

My phone rang. I instinctively pulled it out of my shirt pocket and glanced at the caller.

It was Sprite.

"I gotta answer this." I informed S, the PT guy.

I accepted the call and all I heard was the roar of wind, as if she was holding her phone near the window while driving. "Hello?" I said into the phone several times. No response. I attributed it to a butt-dial and hung up.

Thirty seconds later: "Ring, ring, ring" Almost the same thing. Lots of wind rush but before I hung up, Sprite started talking. "Joe, Joe do you have a fire extinguisher in your house?" then the phone cut out.

Fifteen seconds later. Another call. Sprite again. "I didn't hear you answer. Do you have a fire-extinguisher?"

"No. We do not have a fire extinguisher in our house. Get the hell out of your house and call 9-1-1!!!" I yelled.

I don't know why people yell. The entire reason for having phones is to make yelling unnecessary.

I decided to NOT leave the PT session. It would be at least 20 minutes before I could be back there and the place would likely be swarming with firefighters long before I arrived.

S-the-PT guy then told me he had been giving PT to a firefighter some years back when the firefighter's pager went off. S asked "Do you have to go?" and the firefighter responded "Nope, I am a volunteer. I can sit this one out.

Shortly afterward another message came through. "Structure at 12345 Somewhere Drive fully-involved. Need more help to save surrounding structures"

S-the-PT guy said, "Hey, that is my neighbor's house!"

The firefighter said "I probably ought to go."

S agreed that was a good idea.

The S asked how I knew Sprite was in her own house and hadn't been visiting mine when she called.

Now that is a very perplexing question. I tried to call Mrs ERJ but got no answer.

10 minutes later I got a text from Sprite. "Everybody is safe".

There wasn't much I could do so I finished the PT session and then did the assigned "homework".

"Controlled" burn

Image shamelessly stolen from the internet

Sprite's grandson (early 20s) was over and was working on "his" food-plot for the upcoming hunting season.

Somewhere he got it into his head that he needed to do a controlled burn.

Everything was peachy until the wind picked up a little bit. He used the fire-extinguisher from Sprite's house with little effect.

Sprite "suggested" he use a rake and shovel to push burning material back into the burnt zone. The grandkid at first resisted...and then complied. Of course you can control a burn with a shovel and a rake if you know what you are doing and the wind isn't blowing too fast.

Unfortunately, the internet experts that convinced the kid he needed a controlled burn were shilling all kinds of commercially manufactured products. It never occurred to the kid he could use the old shovels and rakes in Sprite's barn.


  1. Controlled burns are no joke and shouldn't be done with a cavalier attitude. Once the fire genie is out of the bottle, there's no putting it back in. I burned my several acre pasture after I moved into my place (to clear weeds, thatch, and brush), and it was stressful - even after I got authorization from the state forest service, prepped my property, and made a plan. Grass burns hot and fast!

  2. Uncontrolled fire is my greatest fear. Been though a house fire where I had awoken to smoke and grabbed my beagle and bicycle bag (Wallet, keys etc.) and fled.

    I really dislike seeing folks starting brush burns in hot dry windy days.

    Glad nothing serious happened to you and yours

  3. Bad weather - right now it's hot and dry - is precisely why I still have brush heaps in the hay fields that are probably over a year old now. I think I mowed the grass maybe 1-3 times this year due to the lack of rain when it's usually 1-2 times a week. Most people in my area have enough sense to know when it's relatively safe to burn and the burn bans seem to get posted when the freeway fires start or a fire gets out of control.

    Leaving the waterhose over a wetted down burn pile can be handy if it decides to start up again (hose will melt and water it). If your water is not metered and it's a BIG pile, a sprinkler overnight is peace of mind.

    Good to hear everyone is well.

    - Arc

  4. Glad everyone is okay, and trying to do that by yourself is just asking for trouble... as he learned...

  5. Sounds like he learned a lesson AND got lucky. Controlled burns can quickly become uncontrolled. And then the fire crews get called out, and the Sheriff's Dept wants to talk to the guy that created the commotion, and then nobody is having fun any more.

  6. Never start a "controlled" burn unless you have the means to easily put it out with you. A fire extinguisher that you would normally find in a house or vehicle is nowhere near big enough.

    As a volunteer fireman, I fought grass fires that were big enough to make the national news out to the west of Houston back in 1980. A grass fire is nothing to sneeze at. I've also seen ranchers drive their cattle through a barbed wire fence into an adjacent plowed field without taking the time to cut it because there wasn't time to do so.

    The kid was very lucky that no people were hurt or structures were destroyed.

    1. I completely agree about the potential dangers of grass fires. They can be just as deadly as a forest fire - and sometimes even more so because of the speed that they can move. One of the videos I have our crews watch every spring is called, “It’s JUST a Grass Fire” - a sobering reminder of the deaths and injuries that have occurred on wildland grass fires. It’s sad to have to learn from other’s mistakes and deaths, but there’s always a chance that their lives were not lost in vain as we pay attention to, and honor, their lives in the lessons of today.

    2. Sorry - I goofed and posted the above comment as Anonymous.

  7. The good idea fairy was perching on his shoulder at the time, and he's very lucky it worked out and his uncontrolled burn didn't cause a disaster.

  8. I cannot speak for every location, but I would almost never try a controlled burn nowadays. The liability is just too high. At best we burn piles in Winter.

  9. Reading a book about grass and grassland farming. Published in the late forties. Written by an agronomist from Oklahoma. Says burning is never good for the soil. Roger


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