Next Sketch Outing

Sept. 22: Columbia City

Wednesday, May 5, 2021

Fire – Under Control

5/5/21 Fire engines at controlled burn site, Ballard neighborhood

I had a rare opportunity this morning to sketch a controlled burn. Michele had let me know that the fire department was planning a firefighters’ training session over three days in the Ballard neighborhood. A house that was planned for demolition would be burned for training purposes.

Arriving shortly after the morning session was to begin, I got a great parking spot facing the intersection where a couple of the fire trucks were staged. Wearing oxygen tanks, firefighters ran back and forth with ladders, hoses and other equipment.

House on fire!

My view of the burning house was partially blocked by a parked car, but I could see the roof where most of the action was. (Eventually a fire engine blocked my view entirely, but I had captured what I wanted by that time.) I wouldn’t have had a problem with standing on the sidewalk to sketch, as only a few people were watching, but the huge cloud of smoke rising from the back of the house kept me inside my car. (I had déjà vu of our terrible wildfire weeks last summer when we could smell smoke even through our sealed doors and windows.) Though the front door facing the street was a bit charred, most of the burning must have been on the backside of the house. Dozens of firefighter trainees had various roles, many climbing to the roof and working their way to the back.

I appreciated the unique opportunity to see an interesting training process. It was the most human activity I had sketched since the pandemic began!

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