It's September now. The heart of the dry season. We've had no rain since June, so things are nice and dry.
The dry fuel ignites easily and burns readily. When we see smoke it's the sign for the neighbors to turn out. This fire started in the early evening, in tall grass. After calling the fire department so make sure they'd already been notified, I picked up my neighbor and his son, along with our firefighting equipment (shovels and a backpack sprayer) and headed for the smoke.
We arrived in time to help redirect a couple of fire engines that had taken the wrong turn (easy to do out here in the country where few of the roads are marked) and headed up the dirt road toward the fire scene. Things were pretty well under control when we reached the site, as closer neighbors had already arrived along with a bulldozer, which was already cutting a firebreak in front of the flames.
We were soon joined by another neighbor who was towing a 50-gallon water tank behind his truck. The four of us tended the fire line around the grove of live oaks that shows in the pictures, making sure the fire didn't leap the firebreak or ignite the oaks. Mostly this was smiply a matter of clearing any burning embers away from the base of the trees.
There was no wind, so the whole fire was controlled rapidly, and burned only a little over 20 acres. The fire crews stayed only long enough to make sure it was really out, and by the next day things were back to normal.
We found out later that the fire was caused by poachers, driving around off the roads without regard to the fire danger. It could have been a spark from the exhaust, or an overheated catalytic converter. Just another reason why we don't like poachers around here.