Before the summer heat kicked in about a month ago, we finally lit the giant pile of sticks and logs that remained from having some trees felled in 2014. It had been an eyesore for long enough.
It’s difficult to tell the scale of the pile, but it’s bigger than it looks. A lot of the bulk has settled, but this is what it looked like soon after felling:
We were a little scared, to be honest. We had never set fire to anything of this magnitude before. Despite choosing a windless day and preparing for disaster with ineffective water buckets, we were all too aware of how easily fires can get out of control.
Nevertheless, we’d put it off long enough. It was time to light. We added a bunch of sticks to the pile in an effort to tidy up around the yard a bit. Fortunately for us, we managed to rope a couple of slaves into helping out. With the addition of Dingus and James our labour was cut in half.
I built four fires around the circumference of the pile…
…but I ended up only needing to light one of them.
The gentle north-easterlies took over… with a frightening and unexpected voracity.
All of a sudden there were unstoppable five-metre high flames consuming the pile at a quickening pace.
The inferno took hold in under a minute. Its speed was unsettling. There were large trees nearby, as well as sheep confined to the nearby orchard.
Before it took off and reached the other side, we threw in some remaining branches scattered through the paddock.
Then we all stood back and watched in rapt respect for the awesome fury of mother nature.
You could still feel the intense radiation at this distance – any closer was uncomfortably warm:
This is about as close as you could get without feeling like your face was melting, but only for a few seconds:
When the flames had died down a bit, I attempted to push some of the outer debris into the centre with the tractor.
A couple attempts worked, but I had to reverse quickly when I got a face full of smoke.
As it died down we continued to throw sticks into the glowing core.
Later the next day we all roasted some marshmallows over some embers, but there’s no pictures of that because we were too busy stuffing our faces with burnt gooey goodness.
The collapsed pile continued to burn slowly for another five days, and was still smouldering after a week. A few big trunks remained, which we’ll have to try burning again at some stage.
All in all, a successful mission with zero casualties! Our first big burn – now we have confidence for the next.