August 22, 2007

To start a fire, you need the right accelerant

VALOIS, New York, USA - The first day my cold hit me, no likely under the influence of the Sudafed, I decided that it was the ideal day to burn the three piles of cut brush, trees and dried seaweed that had been collected on the beach early in the summer.

Much of the beach cleanup work had been done by Dan and Lorraine Olsen who, as special thanks, contracted some poison ivy poisoning - at least Dan did. Sorry Dan. But the beach looks great!

Beach cleanup 2
Lorraine adds to the pile

The delay in the burning was largely because of that poison ivy. Burning it is fine, breathing the smoke (or worse, getting it in the eyes) can be nearly fatal.

But by last week - and with plenty of Sudafed to cloud my judgment - I went to the beach armed with a bottle of charcoal lighter fluid, a shovel, and a bucket to throw water if the fire got too rowdy.

Any good lake resident will tell you that charcoal lighter fluid is pretty lousy stuff for lighting large piles of brush. And they are quite correct. So after attempting to light one pile (and creating enough smoke to raise the dead spirits of the Seneca Indians) I grabbed some 87 Octane accelerant from the deck of the Spirit of Louise.

Here's the result:

A little accelerant helped a lot
What 87 Octane will do...

Throwing matches and hoping for ignition
Middle pile didn't want to light

When all three piles were burning full blast, you could feel the heat 200 feet away and I noticed the leaves curled in the nearby treetops. But we were lucky that day and the wind never did come up, the piles instead reduced themselves gradually to nothing but ash and because of the Sunoco 87 Octane fuel, barely a wisp of smoke, once they got burning.

Next summer, the beach will be ready to level and for installation of whatever structures & docks & hoists we need to make it, well, more beachy.

Maybe we should import a few tons of sand?

Smokey ruins
Nothing but ashes

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