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Audio Post Smoke and Ash Sept 21 2012

For most days for the past month have had periods of smoke. Some days it lasts longer than others. I usually builds up around 10 am and clears off by the afternoon. Sometimes it does not. This evening you could not see beyond the trees in the yard.

It was cool this morning. We left the windows open last night and it was 58 degrees inside when we awoke. Being a hearty woman who loves weather, I put on a sweater and let the wind blow by. Around 10 am, as I was  working at my desk I suddenly started to choke on smoke. One would think that I would have had flashbacks to our fire or some other psychological reaction. My reaction was to gauge which way the wind was blowing and close the windows on the windward side.

I did look to see if there was a more immediate cause for the smoke. I am not so inured to wildfire that I would be careless. I actually looked hard but could not see for the smoke. I looked north, along the path of the freeway, toward the Mustang Complex fire in the Salmon-Challis National Forest which has been burning since early July. Started by lightening, the 332,301-acre Mustang Complex Fire is still only 20% contained. The fire is about 200 road miles from here, maybe 125 miles a the crow flies.

Our weather forecasts from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) actually predict smoke as a weather condition. “Mostly clear with Areas of smoke. Lows 40 to 50 with light winds to the south.” Sometimes even when it is cool, we have to close the windows and turn on the air conditioning to filter out the smoke.

Each day there is an air quality advisory warning telling people who are sensitive to particulates to avoid being outside for prolonged periods of time.

Each day the advisory ends with the promise of a new statement to be issued the next day. Another statement will be issued about 4 pm MDT Friday unless conditions improve and the advisory is no longer needed.

Today there was ash in the smoke which is unusual. Ash settled on the rails of the deck here at our temporary house. I felt sorrow for my home. It was the ash in the wind that alerted us to the true danger of the fire that consumed our home. In the end, there was nothing but ash. There was no evidence of the logs or the wooden posts and beams that formed two stories of our home. There was nothing but ash.

Today I could brush the ash off of the deck rail. There was still a rail to brush it off of. That is a very different feeling than nothing left but ash.