I have been in a battle with the neighbors on each side of me for awhile now. I always thought neighbors were supposed to get along, help each other out, support each other. No, not the ones on each side of me. Most of my neighbors are terrific people, and would do anything to help their fellow neighbor out, but the one on each side of me is a whole other story!
The neighbor to my West, it seems I have things under control with, at least for now. But I will save that story for another day and another post. But tonight, I will tell you about my neighbor to my East .... Leroy. The feud with them actually started out with Leroy's wife. She is an odd one, and I could fill quite a few posts just with stories about her antics, but for now, I will tell you about my ongoing conflict with Leroy, a conflict that I hope finally ended . . . . . . tonight.
They have quite a few people living over there, living in old sheds, trailers, and any other kind of ramshackle dwelling you can imagine. Over the years, Leroy has brought in trailer after trailer full of what everyone thought was more people moving in. . . . . trailers loaded down with, although very tattered looking, all the basic household furniture and junk. People out here have often joked and asked, "Just how many people are they going to move in over there?" and "Good grief! They are getting their own little town going on their property!" We rarely saw things moving back out.
As I said, this has gone on for years. And I never associated the occasional smelly fire with the activity over at that property . . . . . . until recently. In the beginning, the fires were only very occasional, and everyone always figured they were burning their trash like many do out here. From time to time there would be a little off smell, not too bad. But over the past several months, the fire smell has gotten REALLY SMELLY! The smoke from those recent fires badly choked up human and animal for days. About that same time, Leroy started "moving in lots more people." The stench from the fires became so bad that I was often sick for days and my throat and lungs burned badly, not to mention what it was doing to my asthma and chronic bronchitis. Some of my smaller critters mysteriously died. And there was just enough space between the stuff being 'moved in', the fires, and the trailers full of scrap metal going out, that I wasn't putting it all together, until one day, when Dave was here and got a closer look at an 'incoming' trailer, that we began to figure out what was going on. This guy was bringing in all kinds of household junk, burning it off, then hauling the scrap metal back out for cash! He had made a business of it. Now, I don't mind anyone burning their own trash at all. nor the occasional piece of household furniture that is too worn out to use any longer, but NOT bringing in trailer after trailer of other people's junk to burn!
The last few fires were REALLY BAD! They stunk something TERRIBLE! My asthma flared up and I got seriously sick each time. I watched more closely and sure enough, that is what the idiot was up to. This just couldn't be right! I talked to a friend in the local volunteer fire department and asked what could be done to stop it. He was not at all happy to hear about the situation and insisted that I call the next time the guy lit a fire. Well, I hate to make trouble with neighbors, so the next time he lit one, I told him to put it out or I was calling the fire department. He promptly put it out. But only temporarily.
The guy continued to bring in trailer loads of stuff, only now, in the middle of the night. He built another fire and I warned him one last time..... put it out or I was reporting it because I was tired of me and my critters getting sick. He immediately put it out. He tried to be more clever about bringing in those trailer loads of junk. He used a different truck, and covered that big ole flatbed trailer, piled higher than you would think possible, completely up with tarps, tied down well. I mean, really, did he think I was that stupid!? 2, 3, 4am he was bringing in trailer loads of junk. I knew another fire was coming. And a member of the fire department firmly told me to make sure I called them the next time he lit one, NOT to give him any more warnings! I decided I better listen and do it because I didn't want to be in trouble, too.
Well, today I had gone in to town for some groceries and errands. I got back just as it was getting dark and in no time, the horrible stench hit me. Yep, he was burning another one of those nasty fires! I was on the phone with a friend and figured I would call it in when I got off, but while we were talking, we heard a loud explosion. I looked up and saw the smoke coming up from behind my house. I thought the back of my house was on fire! Ugh!!! My friend on the other end of the phone was getting pretty scared, too, and anxiously asking if that was a gun shot or what. When I went around the side of the house to look, I saw the enormous blaze!
Leroy was burning a little further back on his property, explosions continued to go off, and when they did, it carried the fire further and my WOODS WAS ON FIRE! I got off and immediately called 911. There had been some explosions with some of the last fires, which carried the chocking smell of paint fumes right down my way, but the fire never got out of control like that. As the dispatcher asked me determining questions about what was going on, closeness of structures and all, he was in total disbelief. He just couldn't believe that anyone would be doing such a thing and I could hear the concern in his voice when I explained about the explosions. The fire department was here in record time and by then it appeared that Leroy had gotten most of the blaze in my woods out, but his was still blazing up pretty big!
The fire department had sent 5 or 6 assorted trucks out (I counted 5, but 6 left from over there), sirens blaring and all. Every one of them drove right past and had a hard time finding the drive way that led into Leroy's property, but they turned around and finally found it. His driveway is moved from where it once was. They were up there quite a while, the last and biggest truck staying at the bottom of the extra long drive just in case it was needed, too. They got the fire out and thick, choking, black smoke filled the air for quite some time. I thought I was going to cough my insides out and my Billy goat choked and coughed harder than I have ever seen him cough. I wasn't sure there for awhile tonight if he was going to make it. Oh, and it was one of my goats, yelling and screaming loudly, that "informed" me of the fire.
Finally, the last fire truck left and I was left to try and breathe and get my very upset dogs settled back down. I was just getting them to calm down a little when a car with a spotlight kept driving back and forth, then parked in front of Leroy's house, soon followed by another, single, fire truck. Not sure what was going on with that, but they both soon left and all seems to be quiet again in my little country world. . . . just a little, burnt chemical stench remaining. I truly hope that was Leroy's LAST junk fire ever!
Sorry I didn't think to grab my camera and get a pic. I was just too panicked with the thought of my woods, full of so much dead wood from the last two years' drought, to think of anything but plan of action if the fire spread any faster towards my house and animal pens. SOOOO many things goes through your mind all at once in a situation like that! And now, I feel great relief on many levels, but I am afraid to go to sleep for fear of rekindle.