Back in the heady days of the early 90s, our garden consisted of a patch of grass, two fishponds, a rather large wooden shed and three of the largest sycamore trees I’ve ever seen. The shed had seen many years and the years had not been kind to it. To make room for a new shed [another story] the old one had to go and so did the trees. Barely teenage me was given the job of disposing of these.
The shed came down quite easily, I only broke one thumb demolishing it. Back from the hospital and a day later I piled up most of the wood and lit it. To say I was not quite prepared for the size and heat output of the fire is a humongous understatement. I ran back to the house, grabbed the hose and spent most of the evening keeping the fences, etc, damp with it. Another fire of similar took care of the rest of the shed and most of the grass in the top part of the garden.
Now for the trees. Have you ever tried to cut down a large tree with a small tenon saw? It takes some doing. It takes the better part of a day. You can’t get all the way though the tree with the saw, so it also leaves the tree in a somewhat unstable state. Stupidly I threw a rope up in the tree and start pulling on it. The tree started to fall. Towards me. Oh shit. A ton of ex tree missed me by about an inch. My Mum’s response to this was something along the lines of “Well it missed you.” A talent for stating the obvious that lady.
Cut forward to the evening of the next day. The tree is chopped up, a fire has been laid out, consisting of lots of tree, a few bits of shed and some newspaper. It was lit, taking warning fro the previous two fires; I kept well back with the hosepipe handy. It smoked a lot. It crackled and spat a lot. It went out. Green wood doesn’t burn. Ever resourceful, I got the jerrycan of petrol. Soak the tree, stand back and throw a match.
*Crackle* *smoke* *spit* *Go out*
Now I did something very silly. I threw on more petrol. The fire wasn’t completely out.
I’m now holding a burning jerrycan of petrol, one of my shoes was burning quite happily and I’m being chased around the garden by a burning stream of petrol issuing from the bottom of the jerrycan. I dunked my foot into the smaller of the two ponds and dropped the jerrycan in as well. Burning petrol floats, so now I had a pond on fire and a tree that was scorched and blackened but very much not on fire. I did the only sensible thing and ran indoors, hoping it would all go away.
The pond eventually burnt itself out; thankfully there were no fish in there. The pond liner had started to burn so bits of tree were used to fill in the hole-that-was-the-pond. The rest of the tree was allowed to dry out over the summer and finally burnt on bonfire night.
The other two trees remained in existence for some more years, until the new neighbours moved in and helped cut them down. I gave my assistance in burning them. I steered clear of the petrol this time.