It was another day in paradise: fruit, oatmeal, and coffee, reading, swimming, more reading, sunset swimming, a nice chicken dinner, Scrabble with mom Diane, chocolate cake, more reading in bed.
A few minutes after I fell asleep, I woke up to Tedly standing at the side of my bed.
“Are you awake?” he asked. “Yea.” I was groggy.
“There’s a fire,” he said. “The whole sky over the mountain is orange.” (A pause.) “I’m not sure what to do.”
He left the room.
Wildfire during our lockdown
Up on the roof, we watched the orange glow in the sky and saw the dark ridge of the mountain. At the base, the local municipal hospital, where the locals are ready to treat any COVID-19 cases, should they happen.
We watched the fire a couple of minutes, standing still under a starry night. I sat down on one of the chairs on the roof. He joined me.
The night picture on my iPhone 6 doesn’t do it justice. The lights are from the hospital at the base of the mountain. Here’s the scene during the day. (Note, the smoke is from someone burning trash — it is not from the wildfire tonight.)
Now and then, we watched huge flames shot out, as if the fire engulfed an explosive tree. The fire line slowly came into more into view.
We watched a few minutes more as my mind raced with everything I thought I’d learned in those wildfire safety sessions at my old job in San Diego, California. At what point, I asked myself, would I worry about that fire? At what point would I want to grab a “go bag” and go? And where would we go? We are up against the ocean.
Tedly guessed it was three miles away. I thought maybe a little less.
I decided if it came halfway down the mountain on the side facing us, behind the hospital, that would be close enough to get a go-bag ready. But I wasn’t ready to split. The night was still – not a breath of wind. That was a good thing.
Tedly and I watched a few more minutes. We saw what we think was a meteor. The Lyrid meteor showers peaked tonight. He asked if he should tell the owner about the fire – if he should go wake her up. I thought that would be a great idea.
Alert the owner
He woke up Yolly, the owner of the Hangout Beach Resort where we are lucky to hunker down during the coronavirus pandemic. She and a few other people from the resort came onto the roof.
Her take: while the fire was huge, she wasn’t too worried. There were rice fields between the fire and the base of the mountain. There was even a river between us. This geography revelation made me feel better.
As a foreigner on quarantine the first day I arrived in Malay, I have not been out exploring to know the lay of the land beyond our dead-end road to the beach. I only know on Google maps, there’s a whole lotta green for a wildfire to burn.
It hadn’t rained hardly at all during our stay. Yolly and her friends carry water to the garden in buckets every day. We all took in the glowing orange smoke against the starry night.
After several minutes, Yolly said she was concerned, but not overly worried. She and the others went back to bed.
Tedly and I stayed up to watch the fire and smoke, and I wrote this up.
This sure feels like the apocalypse
Killer virus, leadership crisis, economic collapse, social unrest, meteors, and now, a nearby wildfire during our lockdown. Tedly joked: What’s next? Locusts? I told him that’s already happened, too. Global famine and war are realistic possibilities to anyone paying attention.
In the time it took to type up this brief account up to this point, the fire line became pronounced over the ridge, on our side. But the smoke looked less intense, as if the fire burned out on the other side of the ridge giving the night sky less orange illumination. It looked slightly less menacing, even though we could clearly see a fire line now.
At some point during our meteor gazing and wildfire watching, the sky quickly clouded up over us – and all around us. And then: it rained!
Not just a rainfall, but a pounding, drenching rain. It turned out to be the hardest rain we have seen in our month-plus here at the Resort. After a while, no more fire.
Yolly sent me a message as I was about to go back to bed: God is amazing.
Another lesson for me in all of this doom and gloom: Grace also is a realistic possibility to anyone paying attention.
Thanks for reading, “Wildfire during our lockdown in the Philippines.”
Ellen and Tedly alternate writing posts every day on this blog during our Enhanced Community Lockdown in the Philippines.