Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Close Call


7.30pm, just before nightfall; camp lights on, feed pets, kids teeth-brushing then bed.

8.15pm Donato our waterman rings about a big fire locally. “They told me to call you”. Grateful to know the local network keeps an eye on us, whoever “They” may be. Not seen/smelt anything but of course go check. Panoramic scan – still can’t see a thing especially as it's now pitch black. Thank him for his concern and hang up… only to turn around and see big orange flames in the distance.

Ring Donato back. Blind at night so can’t see how close it is. I say it seems a fair distance and winds seem to be blowing the other way. How quickly can it spread? No clue on the Italian word for ‘spread’ so try to get his advice. But he just says not to worry if it’s far. Hum. Not reassured.

Spotlight tree to the right, our Glampsite; small light to the left, fire fighting in the distance

Hang up again and walk back towards the tent only to realise it seems rather closer from this angle. Still trying to estimate whether we’re talking 1km, 0,5km or just two fields away. Still no smell, although we can see the smoke further away. And not a single cop or fireman siren.

A risible attempt to call the Castrignano Police Station for advice. Of course no answer. Probably all at the fire, Brief reality shock: although very aware of the risks of bush fire living in Puglia, it’s only now just registered.

Calmly start locating car keys, bag, kid jumpers, laptops, while constantly keeping a (blind) eye on the scene. As I’m about to call friends in Leuca, we notice the orange glow seems to have died down. There’s the distinct sound of generators and full spotlights on the smoky area. Flashing police lights are clearly visible (there they are).

Keep monitoring for the next 30min until it seems safe again, then more checks for the following hour. Crisis averted.

Funnily enough, just a few days ago I’d told Jez we must get insurance now that a good part of the house is built and with all the investment in the Glampsite. He said not to worry, the house couldn’t possibly burn down. Another Jezism.

Mental note to establish an evacuation plan for future fire alarms, thank the firemen/local heroes for their hard work and Donato for his warning call.

And book our house insurance.

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