This Sunday last was a pleasant day, summer had arrived with the clocks moving forward on Saturday night and as if to underline the event we had a good measure of sun albeit with a fairly brisk south westerly, ideal in fact for some garden maintenance. It always amazes me just how prolific nature is and once fallen branches, leaves and dead plants were collected we had built a sizeable
The prevailing wind direction provided a safe opportunity to light a garden fire as the smoke and ash would blow harmlessly across the open fields. And so it proved. When we called it a day and swapped rakes and hayforks for slippers and a cup of tea all that remained was a low hot glowing pile of white ash.
Shortly after seven in the evening as dusk drew in I took the dog out and glancing down the garden to the rubbish fire I was surprised to see fairly boisterous flames flickering in the gathering gloom. I knew immediately what was amiss. On the dyke edge around 10 feet from the fire is a big old willow tree. The centre of the tree has gradually disintegrated over the years and it is hollow to the extent you can see through parts of the lower trunk. Although literally not in the line of fire the gusting wind had clearly blown a hot ember into one of the dry hollows and now the tree was well alight with flames licking out up to 8 foot from the ground.
The fire was burning the core out of the tree and despite copious buckets of dyke water I could not douse the upper reaches within the tree itself.
The wife then remembered we had a couple of fire extinguisher samples in the store that we “borrowed” to safeguard a garden marquee two summers ago. Sure enough we had a 9litre water and a 9litre Foam extinguisher. I was loath to use the foam as the tree like many willows sits on the dyke edge so contaminating the water course was inevitable.
I picked up the 9 litre water and headed for the tree. It was a fair weight and I thought at the time that a lighter 3litre water additive extinguisher would have been as effective and much easier to manoeuvre. The flexible discharge hose allowed me to reach inside the tree and direct the nozzle upward toward the hidden fire. I pulled the pin and squeezed the trigger.
The fire was out within the 20 or 30 seconds it took to discharge the extinguisher. Pretty impressive compared to the gallons of water I had bucketed on previously with little result. It was only the second time in my long association with fire safety that I had used a fire extinguisher in anger. There is no doubt in my mind that as a first line of offence they have no equal.
I put out what was left of the original fire, something I should have done in the first place, and headed back to the house berating myself and feeling somewhat foolish. That’s the third bloody time that’s happened! Willow ever learn.