The same area had burned the week before and by mid-afternoon, the fire was out.
Or so everyone thought.
Around 5:30 p.m., just as I was getting ready to leave the office, a few of us looked out the window and noticed it looked like the apocalypse had come to Great Falls.
Most of us had noticed the smoky smell but at first thought someone had burned the popcorn again (seriously, how hard is this people? Just hit the popcorn button and it's perfect every time. Every. Single. Time.)
Then we realized something was wrong.
Winds had shifted, a thunderstorm blew in causing the fire to pick back up, fast and wild.
Pretty quickly, the fire moved toward the city limits, coming within yards of a densely populated neighborhood and some blocks were evacuated.
Once that end was under control, it had sparked again on the northern end, which was moving toward us.
When it was all done, the fire ended up coming just about as far north as us, but stayed to the west by a few miles.
I'd planned to leave the office that day by 5:05 p.m., was ready to walk out by about 5:35 p.m., but ended up there until 9:30 p.m. when the incident was largely over.
Since that day, we've noticed some puffs of black smoke in a nearby field, which had been burned. The fire isn't considered completely contained until we get more rain and every puff of smoke makes me nervous.
One bit of smoke flared up during a major thunderstorm the other night, which included lots of lightning and high winds, and I kept my eye on that until I fell asleep. I noticed another bit of smoke this afternoon, just as high winds were blowing through the area.
For the most part, everything here is fine, but our fields are dry and little stands between us and the area that burned but more fields of dried grass.
Last week's fire was much scarier for those in its quickly changing path, but it was a reminder for us of how easily it could happen to us.
Wild fires and grass fires are major factors during Montana summers and there's been several significant ones since my first visit here in 2012.
It's a reality of life here and in the western U.S. Right now, there's a large fire raging in Hamilton, Montana, the town where we got our first batch of chickens, and it's forcing evacuations and threatening homes.
But as much as it's always a possibility, it's been one of those things that happens over there, or in the mountains or out in the county (yeah, yeah I live in the county). Maybe it's just like everything else when it won't happen to you until it does.
After the fire, I talked to the city fire chief and emergency manager about ways to prepare for fires and how to take care of yourself in an emergency when help might not get there in time for stories that ran in the paper.
Then I came home and realized we didn't have a detailed plan either.
Though, I've already pitched to M that we get rafts so in case of a tornado we can climb down into the cistern. Obviously we can tread water or float, the rafts are for the dogs. Of course.
That's how my logic works.
M nixed the raft idea.
As a kid, I took emergency planning to heart and had emergency kits in the basement that include water, batteries, flashlights, a radio and coloring books and crayons. My 10-year-old priorities were on the entertainment provided by electricity free coloring, but those kits came in handy on more than one occasion.
For whatever reason as an adult, that emergency planning went by the wayside, when really, I probably need it more.
All that said, my worst-case-scenario imagination is over here working overtime to think through possibilities, exit plans and to start putting together a new kit or go-bag as the fire chief calls it.
No one thought I was overly cautious when we spent a few hours in the basement in South Dakota as tornadoes blew through and I know I won't be upset with myself for being overly prepared if and when the worst-case-scenario becomes reality.