Bloody hell, my room’s on fire!

Another restless night at the Hale Pohaku Resort & Hotel for Stray Astronomers. But there was a tinge of excitement to waking up. I thought there was a smell of sulphur (translation: ‘sulfur’) in the air and my first thought was “Blimey, the vog can’t be so bad that it’s climbed 9000 feet and is thick enough to penetrate into the buildings and rooms? ”

Now, we all know that your first thought of the day (even though it was 4pm, this was the start of my new day!) is never your best one, so I dismissed it and waited for the next, better, thought to arrive. “Fire, it smells like something is burning.” That was a better thought, for it was to turn out to be the truth. The next thought, my third, was worse than my first: “Bloody hell, my room’s on fire!”

In the back of my mind (and that’s where I keep my best thoughts, but they always hide away back there as whenever they venture out they get bullied on by the Crap-Thoughts-Gang), I knew that what I had just thought was b*ll*cks (translation: ‘b*llsh*t’… well, close enough).

Curiosity is probably one of my strongest instincts and it was that, rather than fear, which got me out of bed, showered (another round of the HP Shuffle) and out to investigate. As I climbed the stairs between the dorms and the main building there were white flakes falling.

Crap-Thoughts-Gang: Snow!! It’s snowing!! Come on Ant, let’s play!!

Back-of-my-mind-thoughts: (quietly) No it’s not. It’s ash. You go and play, we’re staying here.

Indeed it was a fire. A controlled fire we were told. Not-sure-who, were clearing bushes on the north-eastern slopes of Mauna Kea near to HP. The smoke was really thick and it did smell like a forest fire (I know, I’ve been caught in the middle of one). I thought of taking a picture but the smoke was so thick that a grey (translation: ‘gray’) picture wouldn’t have been that interesting. (Andrew over at A Darker View has a good image though which shows the smoke filled sky.) Anyway, another thought came to me: “It’s been 8 hours since I last ate.”

Actually, I think hunger must be my strongest instinct.

UPDATE: Andrew over at A Darker View has found confirmation that this is indeed a real fire, scorching some 60 acres near the Mana Road.

6 thoughts on “Bloody hell, my room’s on fire!”

  1. “Fire, it smells like something is burning.” – I usually have that thought when walking up from the dorms and they’re cooking steaks for dinner.

    Amazing sky down here this evening. I don’t know if it has anything to do with the smoke from the fire.


  2. The smell was pretty strong when we descended into the plume. A controlled burn? Are they trying to burn out some gorse?

    Smoke, vog and thick fog on Saddle tonight, interesting day.


  3. Tom : It was weird waking up to that. The other thought that I had (probably the crappest, so crap it didn’t make it into the blog) as I saw the ash falling was “Oh dear, nuclear holocaust.”

    Andrew: That’s right. I think they must have told Alan Hara at HP, although I’m surprised that there wasn’t an email that went around saying that they were doing this today. They’re usually good about that.


  4. Pingback: A Darker View
  5. There’s absolutely nothing on the county of Hawaii civil defense website. For years I’ve listened to the most innocuous warnings from these guys but recently they seem to have gone to sleep. It was always fun to listen to a warning about a small fire in the desert somewhere that wouldn’t affect anyone anywhere.

    I’m a little surprised there’s nothing in email from MKWS or the observatories either.


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