Thursday, March 11, 2010
It was a winter no one is likely to forget. Not just because of the unusual snow and cold but the "Porter's Incident". Porter is a small town in North Dakota with an all volunteer fire station manned by local townsmen and women. They train well, learn from each other and have saved many lives and homes over the years. Nestled in the hills Porter is usually in cased in snow in the winter but that year was heavier than normal and colder than usual. Few fires break out as the local people do listen to the fire prevention classes held at Town Hall and allow inspections each year of their homes for fire prevention. Most converted to Propane gas systems for heat as when it gets cold getting other fuel is difficult. Everyone has a fireplace and stocks of wood to burn in case of need or for back up. Clean chimneys, fire grates, best practices are followed but still an open fire in a home is dangerous. Most all fires start because of a fireplace or because an outdoor drum fire goes un attended. Oil drum fire disposal is allowed and inspected too. Garbage pickup is limited at best and towns folk have it but outside the limits one must bring it to a collection spot. Thus a lot burn their garbage and waste to save the time and trip. Not to mention the Raccoons getting into it now and then causing a big mess.
It was a Saturday, the day of the incident. A small cottage caught fire near hill outside town limits. An older couple lived there, everyone knew. With it being Saturday all hands were available and the fire was handled quickly with minimum damage to the cottage. There was an odd snow bank right of the cottage, it iced over during the week and looked like an iceberg on land. It was as big as a buss wedged into the crevasse of the hill fed by what looked like a little ice flow from the top. Jimmy was rolling out the hose and used the open space in from of the "iceberg" to wind back the hose properly. He noticed his boots began to ice up and caller over for someone to come help. In the time it took for him to call and someone attention to it he was being engulfed in ice. Robert ran to him to see and then all of sudden he to began to ice over both men soon covered in ice. Instinct called on others to run to them but for some reason Gary at the truck just stayed and called in for help. An ambulance was dispatched from a nearby town with hospital. Soon anyone who went close got iced over. The others felt helpless watching the incident. Putting on full gear Gary was able to hack lose the closest fellows who made it to the truck to heat up and melt off the ice. The others took time but eventually all were able to be freed and make it to safety. The coldest ones taken to the hospital to be checked out.
What was there, why it happened no one really knows today. Theories abound. Methane gas escaped, a phenomena that creates glaciers, a strange natural event, no one wanted to get close to find out and the weather changed. The strange ice melted away, no one ever went back. The "Porters Incident" is just one of those things that happen all across the cold. Something townsfolk talk about and strangers never believe, until it happens again.