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Burn the House Down!

It was just another day of oil field gate guarding.  Trucks in/trucks out. Wave. Write. Piddle.  Don’t matter what day it is, the view never changes.

Muenster VFD on the scene

Then one of my regulars skidded up to the stop sign and hollered out the window “Got a fire on the hill!  Muenster is on the way!” and he roared off.  Even with my bad hearing, I could hear the warble of sirens in the far distance.

I hollered to Miss Kathy and she joined me outside. We looked up the hill towards the active sites which are over a mile away.  No smoke billowing but Miss K said she could smell it.   Now I gotta tell you — we are dry here.  Damned dry. We have been back on duty, after the West Texas Ramble, for over 6 weeks now and we have not had enough rain to wet a snake’s belly,  The Red Oaks down along the creek were turning brown the last week in August, I doubt they will be back next Spring.

From the info my regular told me about the location of the fire, I could pretty well figure out what had happened.  When it comes to the oil field bidness, I don’t know a flag joint from a float joint but I do know one thing.  You don’t go mucking about with open flames when this whole country is powder house dry and the wind is blowing 20mph out of the south.  We have 4 old wells out of the 28 that are here that are old and do not belong to EOG.  They were dormant and in a state of disrepair for the first 4  months we were here.  Word was the company that owned them went bankrupt and they were being sold.

Well that was just what happened.  One day Jason showed up in a rattly old Dodge and said he was going to go to work on the old wells. He has been a regular in and out of the gate for the last 4 weeks.  After an initial head-butting episode when he told me he was not doing anything for EOG and I was not allowed to stop him and I told him I was here per landowner request and furthermore;  I was just pretty damned sure the landowner would not tolerate such rude behavior and high handed attitude from anybody, he settled right on down.

From the start, I could tell Jason’s company was nowhere near the quality operation that EOG put on here everyday.  They were operating on a shoestring with old(er) equipment and minimal manpower.  He had come through the gate that morning saying they were going to set up a flare stack on #1.   #1 was the location of the fire.  Now remember I don’t know squat but installing a flare stack to burn off unwanted gas didn’t seem to be the greatest idea to me.   We ended up with 6 units responding, the last one in the gate was the Muenster Fire Chief and I figured somebody was in for an ass chewin’.

Muenster Fire Chief

This is a big location -1100 acres and I knew who was working where and which way the wind was blowing.  I figured out early on the Old Girl was in little danger; I had a little trouble getting Miss K to rest easy though.   I stopped the trucks coming in and if they were going to any location downwind of the fire, I asked them to hold short in a safe location until we knew how much of the country was on fire.


Due to an amazingly quick response, the fire was limited to just a few acres.  The Fire Chief stopped on his way out to update me.   I asked him about Jason’s attitude because I pretty much figured how that conversation went.  Sure enough the Fire Chief told me they ‘had words’.   The Fire Chief was a little feller and Jason would make 2 of him easy. I could tell by the way the FC’s eyes were still sparkin’ who looked away first.  I would not want to stand toe to toe with that little ol’ tough nut.  It has been several days since the fire and Jason has not been back.  Wonder if he still has a job?

End Note: I am on a Stephen Stills bender this morning…. All Stills — All the Time.  For my money, Stephen Stills was the Man from back in the day.  No one could hold a candle to him when it came to the 12 string and he had the voice that turned out to be the sound of a generation.

So we have a double Stills shot this morning….

Just Roll Tape: April 26, 1968  — A raw set of live studio demo recordings that was only discovered a few years back.  Stills at 23 years old, before CSNY.

Live at Shepherd’s Bush 2008 — Stills is 63 years old for chrissakes—and the old man still rocks out.  Interesting to hear the same set of songs; 40 years apart.

Treetop Flyer — I never tire of this song. 5:29 of string bending excellence.  Man, I wish my fat fingers could dance across the frets like that…



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