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Sunday, September 4, 2011

DAY 231: SHREVEPORT - OIL CITY - VIVIAN, LOUISIANA

We have a rather interesting and- for me - exciting photographs and video today.

But first: Up at dawn. Drove from LOWE's on Airline Avenue to I-220, exiting at US 71. Parked SPIA and walked for 14 miles (7 out and 7 back). Moved SPIA again to a Truck Stop about midway between the towns of OIL CITY and VIVIAN, LOUISIANA. Parked SPIA once more and walked into Vivian and back to SPIA.

It was then that the excitement began.

I was taking many photographs and stopped to take a Movie of an Oil Well Pump in action. I smelled smoke and emergency vehicles drove past with lights flashing. I quickly followed them the 1/4 mile, where they turned in on the Truck Stop Road where SPIA was parked.

The sky about 1/4 miles from SPIA was full of smoke. I rushed to download my camera chip into the computer...only to have it refuse to load. Put it back into the camera...it also refused to view the photographs, stating the chip was corrupted and had to be cleaned.

Grabbed a second chip from my video camera bag, inserted it into my Panasonic and rushed down the road to within 500 feet of the fire. The forest was blazing through the tops of Pine Trees. No emergency vehicles had yet arrived, so I started shooting still and video.

About 30 minutes later, police had blocked the roadway and a few official vehicles started arriving. By now, the fire had reached the road I was on. The wind was blowing about 30 miles per hour - from passing Tropical Storm Lee.

The following are the still photographs, which are already up loaded. I will complete the narrative and post to Google and Facebook. Then I will "Edit" and try to upload some of the video...



View from beside SPIA as I started walking toward the fire...that smoke is about 300 meters away.


SPIA is parked among a string of 18-wheelers and ASPLUNDH tree choppers. The trees are about 100 feet from the vehicles.



The scene as I walked toward the smoke about 500 meters away.



Private vehicles were still coming up the road...no emergency vehicles had yet arrived.



Emergency vehicles now arrived...road is still not closed to traffic. Flames are about 100 feet from the right hand side of the road.



Flames have now reached the right side of the road...the wind blowing them across the road, but the fire is still confined to the right (North) side.



The vehicle pulling out is a local home-owner. I spoke with the man and woman...he pleaded for help...my home is just across the road...I need water...perhaps I can borrow a water hose from the Truck Stop...

I wished him luck...he drove off. At this point, the fire had not crossed the road.



Another private vehicle just drove through the dense smoke.


The fire has now crossed the road and is rushing headlong through the pine forest to the South.


a real conflagration now...and the flames North of the road are moving East, towards where I am standing.


Flames are now being blown by the wind completely across the road at macadam level.


And fire is burning on the South side of the road.


And then appears the Media in the person of Cody from Channel 12 TV.


Cody's vehicle. Cody captured none of the action above. He only got in on the remaining excitement. In 10 minutes, flames were crossing the road where Cody and I are standing.


Emergency vehicles are arriving...but no fire engines as yet. I have been moving back. In the beginning, I was about 50 meters beyond that pickup truck on the right. Flames are coming from the right side of the road and circling around behind me. In another 20 minutes, the area I now stand will also be under flames.


This is the smoke behind me...about 100 meters from the road and closing through the tree tops.


Everyone has now moved back. At this point, one of the pickup trucks came by ordering Cody and me to get completely out of the area...guess they also could see the fire circling around behind us.


EMS Aid vehicles are now on hand...nothing to do as yet. Everyone is staying clear of the flames...and still no Water Trucks (Fire Engines). I have been taking photos for about an hour now.


I have moved back to SPIAs parking lot. The flames are still moving East. The wind is still blowing hard from the North.


Finally a fire truck arrives...has no water on board. Takes another 10 minutes to fill up.


A second fire truck arrived a few minutes later. Both drove down the road and came immediately back to SPIAs parking lot. They arrived much too late to do anything but watch with the rest of us.

The Truck Stop Manager came over to me and said they were about to evacuate the entire area as the flames were dangerously close to his fuel tanks.

This area where the fire is burning is littered with on-line oil well pumps. Where I walked SR 1 to VIVIAN, LOUISIANA, there were well over 50 wells just along the road. Many more were back in the trees. Many of these wells are in the path of the fire.

I gave TV Channel 12 photographer, Cody, my photograph chip to download in his computer. He had NO images of the actual fire in the early stages. I did have them, and he was extremely pleased I offered them to him.

I am now parked in WALMART of VIVIAN, LOUISIANA for the night - with the blessing of the Manager. In the morning, will again walk North. We will enter Texas by mid morning at a point where Texas, Louisiana, and Arkansas all come together at one spot...another photo opp.

In my rush to the fire, I again pulled a tendon in my left leg. Will not keep me from walking, but I MUST be more attentive / careful.

My repair to SPIA has not leaked in today's rain - mostly drizzle - from Tropical Storm Lee, which has now moved on.




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