We like to make light of almost every trying situation we are involved in. The following happened today and although we might have taken a light stance on the reporting, there was certainly a chance for several people to have lost their lives if the situation had evolved differently.
Sunday is our NASCAR day, we conduct the Sunrisa (smile) Ham net on Sunday and usually add a bit of light hearted NASCAR information since we figure that most sailors are NASCAR fans. For Bill, Sunday is not only NASCAR day but also the day that Lisa absolutely makes breakfast. Breakfast on Sunday is usually French toast. Today was one of those early days when Bill and Lisa awoke just about the time the sun was rising. Lisa took care of coffee (Bill is the Sunday net controller and that means it is his day to receive the special care that all Net Controllers require), then started on the new eggs to prepare them for the French toast.
We just purchased eggs two days ago (36 eggs to be exact); as Lisa was breaking into the second egg she gave a little squeal or rather a gasp as the egg was actually rotten. Being the trooper she was she checked the third egg and decided that either the eggs or she needed to leave the boat as the second egg was not only rotten, but actually black inside. In all our years in the U.S.A. neither of us can recall a day that we had ever got a rotten egg from the grocer. In Mexico it happens.
Bill finished his net with just coffee then donned his best flip-flops to cross the desert floor of El Burro cove for the ½ mile trek to the tienda (grocery store) for some new eggs. With a count of 1 and 2, we tossed all the old eggs over the side and off Bill went. Along the way Bill put a 2” thorn through his flip-flops and almost permanently secured the rubber sandal to his foot. Thinking of Sylvester Stallone in First Blood he valiantly knelt on the dessert floor and with a little yip, pulled about 1.5” of thorn from his foot and proceeded to get eggs (yes, good looking and determined to satisfy).
With the egg issue settled we continued through our day of boat maintenance and soaking up the sun. At one point Lisa decided to take a dip in the 89 degree water and was attacked by salt water cat fish (look it up). Really it is more like being attacked by a pack of old men without their dentures, but she screamed (the second time today) and swam in Mark Spitz style to the ladder and decided the swimming for the day was complete.
As the day wore on we settled into a nice game of Scrabble (got you here, huh!) with a couple of nice beverages when we heard a call on the VHF radio for help. About the same time we noticed smoke coming from over the hill, something was on fire. Not willing to miss out on action, Lisa and Bill boarded the dinghy with a bucket (always the Cub Scout) and sped off for the other side of the bay. What we saw when we got there was not what was expected; a houses was fully involved with fire.
Lisa dropped Bill off at the beach, or actually, Bill under notice from Lisa not to go, dropped himself off at the beach and left Lisa to take the dinghy to a safe distance.
The houses on Coyote Beach (where the fire was) are all closely positioned to each other. If you can imagine how quickly fire can spread from houses made of wood with tender, or rather mostly palm frond roofs, you will know how dangerously quick the fire spread from one house to another. When we arrived there was one house involved. By the time Bill had dipped his bucket into the sea and began tossing water to put out the flames with about 10 others volunteers, the fire had spread to 2 homes. Within 15 minutes it moved to 3.
It took a bit of time to get everyone pulling in the same direction but eventually everyone began concentrating on a single upwind home. It was not on fire at the time and a group of 10 or 15 guys began tossing water on the roof and fence to keep the fire from spreading to that home. During this time there were perhaps 3 propane (the main home fuel in Mexico) tanks that ignited. Luckily they did not explode, but the high pressure propane was a constant threat to everyone as they tried to save the one home.
About 45 minutes into the fire, the group moved to save another home that was down wind. This one involved a bit more flame, a fully involved 300 gallon propane tank that was spitting flames and two vehicles. If you have seen films of gas tanks exploding, we would not say that doesn’t happen but a Jeep in the yard became involved and although the tank caught flame, it did not explode in a ball of fire. Lisa became involved in the bucket brigade and Bill continued to work the flames closer to the fire. Several of the locals were very involved in helping to keep the propane tanks cool, palm trees from catching fire and falling and other similar heroic events. The fire department was still almost an hour away.
At one point we thought we were going to lose a 4th home but with the help of everyone we were able to keep the house from catching fire. When the fire department finally arrived most of the fire had burnt itself out. What was still burning Bill and several others were trying to extinguish.
The results of the fire were blamed on faulty wiring from the owner of one of the homes that burnt to the ground. Several cats where singed pretty badly, two vehicles were lost along with a couple of mobile home style trailers butted up to the homes. No body was injured even though many dashed around tanks of propane (you really can’t believe the number of propane tanks at each home) which were either in the flames or burning already, around homes that were fully engulfed in flames or stood atop roof tops throwing 5 gallon buckets of water at the flames of other homes only 6 feet from them.
We went home spent and tired. Bill is still complaining about the throne that went through his foot earlier and Lisa is complaining about a hurt toe from a couple of days ago. The exhaustion from fighting fires was chalked up to a normal day of adventure.
How exciting was your day.