Almost every spring in Vermont, after the snow melts and before the new grass comes up, there is often a dry spell, causing the remainder of the previous year’s grass to become bone dry.

At those times, the weather service puts out a red flag alert, telling people not to burn anything outdoors. Despite those warnings, there are often grass fires, which keeps the firemen busy.

One spring, at that dry time of year, one of my neighbors who lives about 1/4 mile away from my house, on the other side of the road, decided that it was a good time to burn his trash…and the grass caught on fire. A brisk wind blew the fire directly toward my house. The only thing between the house and the fire were six old maples, each about four feet in diameter at their bases, growing on the fire side of the road, and the road itself, which wasn’t very wide.

I frantically gathered up sections of garden hose, connected them, hooked the hose to a faucet and dragged it to the side of the house that faced the fire.

Meanwhile my wife, Sage, ran to the front of the house, and as the fire reached the maples, she threw up her arms and yelled, “STOP!” as loudly as she could.

The wind instantly shifted 90 degrees. The fire ran along the road for about 200 feet and then jumped the road. Several trees in my orchard burned, as did my raspberry patch. The fire’s fury finally waned and the local volunteer fire department came and put out the rest of it. The house was untouched. Meanwhile the maples were burning. Before it was over two of these ancient beauties had to be cut down.

There is no doubt in my mind that Sage saved our house. However, she always said that Grandfather Fire saved it.

Fred Cheyette

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