Favorite Travel Quotes

"Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts."
-- Mark Twain
Innocents Abroad

"Stop worrying about the potholes in the road and celebrate the journey." -- Fitzhugh Mullan

"A good traveler has no fixed plans and is not intent on arriving." -- Lao Tzu

Debt of Gratitude Owed Rural Firefighters

©Bert Gildart: Yesterday, (Saturday) I rode my bike down our driveway, turned south along our old country road, peddled about 100 yards, and suddenly saw a small fire from an old river landmark leap about 40 feet above the nearby farmlands. About the same time, a neighbor driving his pickup trunk also saw the flames and called the local fire department.

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Creston and Bigfork firefighters quickly arrest violent flames that seemed on verge of spreading.

I quickly peddled back home, got Janie, got my camera, hopped into our ancient pickup (not the one we use to pull our Airstream) and drove down a rutted dirt road to the old wooden structure located on the banks of the Flathead River. All that took no longer than ten minutes, but already fire trucks were arriving on the scene. And so, too, were area fire fighters, who arrived over the next 20 minutes in their own private cars. In so doing, they gave up  whatever they might have been doing: playing with children, making home improvements, watching a football game – whatever – they all rushed to the scene.

Janie and I followed them and watched as they moved in with power hoses to knock down the flames. Several trees had caught fire and firefighters removed those with chainsaws. Very quickly, the men (and the woman, too) contained the fire and we thought how lucky we were for their quick response. Winds were gusting at 30 to 40 miles per hour, and less than a hundred yards away was our small community known as Ranchettes. The Forest Service ranked fire danger “High” and was not issuing any burning permits.

FIRE BECOMES SOCIAL EVENT

Janie and I watched the firefighters for about an hour, and I took a number of photographs, using a 400mm lens. Other neighbors showed up and before long the fire had become a social event. Tom Heikens, the man who owned the old structure and the adjacent farmland, said he couldn’t remember exactly, but thought the dilapidated old wooden building might have been 100 years old. He said no one had lived there since 1948. I said it had become one of our river landmarks for times when we were boating on the river. When we saw the tired old home we knew we were near our takeout point. Again, we all wondered how the fire had begun, and one of the firefighters said they’d be conducting an investigation.

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Just how the the old structure caught fire remains a mystery. Without the quick response of local firefighters this could have metastisized to a real tragedy.

I then hurried back home and called the Daily Interlake, a newspaper I worked for ages ago. Once the evening news editor said she’d use the photo I then wrote the “cut lines.”  Though loss of the structure will cause no one any financial grief, it is just another of the old things that is now gone, reflecting on the way in which change comes to small rural areas. But more significantly, the quick response demonstrates once again the debt of gratitude we owe our firefighters.


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THIS TIME TWO YEARS AGO (Ironically, it was about local firefighters!):

*Firefighters In Creston Montana Recall 9/11

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