Living in a cottage (the Casita del Lago) in the middle of a UNESCO designated biosphere, fire has always been one of my biggest fears. I’m not so concerned about the danger to myself as the Casita is lakefront and so in the event of a blaze my plan of escape mainly consists of grabbing 50 Shades the cat, leaping into one of the kayaks and paddling madly away from any blaze. But earlier this summer my worst fears came true when fire struck the hills.
It was a Sunday and, as I had a couple of guests saying over from Switerland, we decided to hit the beach. I also host a radio show on a Sunday, and not wanting to be distubed from my few hours of free time with my (female) companions, I turned my mobile off.
As I parked the car outside the studio later that day, I switched the phone back on and it immediately began ringing.
The first call was from Marco, one of my neighbours. He told me that there was a fire close to the Casita, and when I asked him how bad these types of fire were, he answered “Ufffff”. Marco is a lawyer and not prone to exageration, so I knew “Uffff” was serious.
The Yummy Mummy (a very attractive neighbour, if you were wondering) was next on the phone, saying that she could see the smoke from her place, about halfway up the Istan road, and I should get up there sharpish.
As I speed up the road I could see the plumes of smoke rising further up the valley. I was halted by a Guardia Civil roadblock and I told them that I lived on kilometre 11.
Where was the fire I asked?
“Kilometre 11” they replied.
I was allowed to drive up to kilometre 10, where I could clearly see flames as well as helicopters dropping water. At a second road block I was told that I would not be allowed to drive down the track to my house as it was too dangerous. Two hours later the fire was still burning so I decided to go back to the beach.
The girls had fully embraced the beach lifestyle and I found them chilling out on their sunbeds. When I broached the rather sensitive subject of the possibility of the Casita being burnt to the ground they shurgged. “If the house has burnt down, have a mojito. And if the house hasn’t burnt down, then have a mojito!!!”
Later that night we were allowed back down the track to the Casita. The house was untouched but it was close, as the fire had started just 500 metres to the north and the wind was blowing in the opposite direction. That night we stood on the terrace and watched the torches of the firemen as they made sure the fire was out. The fire had caused damage, but without the skill of the helicopter pilots and firefighters it could have been much worse.