There's nothing like a forest fire to celebrate the birth of our country. The taller half and I drove over to the state park to watch the fireworks last night and ended up with a front row seat to an accidental fire in the brushy wetland area between the beach road and the lake.
We parked on the edge of the road where the spillway connects Lake Shelby and Little Lagoon. The area between the two is wetlands with very few tall pines left since Hurricane Ivan visited in 2004. Our view of the fireworks show was spectacular - they appeared to be coming right at us as the shells were fired from a barge anchored just offshore in the Gulf. As one really spectacular chrysanthemum shape faded, I pointed out a green flare slowly dropping to the ground. Probably someone over in the small beach houses on 1st or 2nd Avenue. Laughing, I commented that someone's car or yard would probably catch fire from it.
And catch fire it did. We noticed the smoke getting thicker and then we saw the flames a couple of hundred yards across the marsh from where we were parked. It was a real two-for-one show - fireworks above and roaring flames below. Firetrucks, park rangers and other emergency vehicles were coming past our vantage point and sirens could be heard across the water. We stayed to watch until the rangers started pulling out hoses and blocking traffic. We headed home then to listen to the police scanner and watch the southern horizon for smoke.
In this morning's paper, there was a small article saying that the fire was contained and allowed to burn itself out since it was in a wetland area and no homes were threatened. This link will take you to a compilation video of shots submitted to al.com http://videos.al.com/2008/07/gulf_state_park_fire_compilati.html.
Our video was taken from the northeastern side of the fire looking south toward the Gulf. The scenes in the al.com videos were taken from the south and southwest on the beach road and on the western side as seen from Highway 59. As the fire grew, the frogs and bugs around us in the marsh really tuned up. You can hear them along with sirens in the video.