Prairie Fire Threatens Homestead

Girls flee isolated homestead as prairie fire races closer.

| Good Old Days

The little homestead shack was by itself on the lonely prairie, and on this warm, sultry day, it seemed more isolated than usual among the acres of grass. Mama and Papa had gone the 14 miles to town, and we girls were home all alone. The two older girls were doing some baking and cleaning, and I was outside playing when all at once I noticed a huge black cloud in the west. My cry of "Prairie fire!" brought the girls on the run.

By this time the flames were visible, and the fire line appeared to be a mile or more long and headed straight for our home.

Quickly my sisters decided it was too late to try to throw up any protection. Anyway, the team was gone and only Old Maud was in the corral. My older sister caught Maud and with clumsy efforts managed to get the single harness on her. The three of us got the buggy shafts and tugs where they belonged. Into the buggy we piled along with a few valuables the girls had grabbed in the house.

By this time, the fire was less than a mile away and coming rapidly toward us. The girls decided to drive away from the flames. When we had driven a short way we came to a ditch, dug in the hope of future irrigation. There was no bridge, but Old Maud scrambled across – buggy, girls and all. Only then did we stop and take time to look back.

We could see movement in the smoke just in front of the flames. What was it? Presently we could see smoke-blackened firefighters, men from a nearby government camp and homestead menfolks. They had huge sleds with barrels of water and were beating out flames with wet sacks and setting backfires.

As the men gained on the fire and my big sisters saw they were going to save the homestead, we turned Old Maud around and went back through the ditch and drove home through the smell of pungent smoke.

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