Sunday, February 5, 2012

The Burning Tree?

I am going to digress from my usual themes to tell you about something that has me flummoxed. On Friday, I was on a train going to Seattle. The weather was mild and sunny. We were delayed on a side rail for about thirty minutes, waiting for a train to pass from the other direction. We were stopped in a business district of some town. Next to the tracks was a street. Across the street was a four or five level office building with a small parking lot in front. Next to the parking lot was a grassy area with one tree positioned about forty feet in front of the building. The tree was some kind of bushy evergreen and grew slightly taller than the roof. There were no people around, only cars driving by on the street.

Someone remarked that there was smoke coming from the tree. Sure enough, smoke was curling from the top part of the tree. As we watched, the smoke rapidly increased in volume and we soon saw flames licking the uppermost branches. The fire rapidly expanded until the entire top of the tree was on fire and the flames started making their way downward.

By then, a man standing in the parking lot was on his cell phone, and moments later, a fire truck pulled up. The flames were now a third of the way down the tree. The fire fighters hooked up the hose and within minutes there was only a little steam still drifting from the tree. Police had also arrived. Officers and fire fighters and a couple of people from the building talked together, but soon everyone left.

From our perspective on the train, there was no visible damage to the tree. The top branches still looked full and green. During the fire, a few ashes flew into the air, but nothing fell to the grass underneath. There was no sign that the fire ever happened.

All of this happened in about twenty minutes. No one on the train could explain what we had seen. Can you?

29 comments:

  1. Well I guess it was the proverbial burning bush with a message. What was the message? Don't know. Maybe, things are not always as they seem???

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    1. Sandra, I thought that, too, but the message, alas, was not for me. I heard no voices, and if anyone in my train car did, they kept it to themselves.

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  2. Burning the dry stuff inside instead of the green outside, perhaps. My question would be what started it in the first place.

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    1. CW, That's a plausible explanation, but like you, I can't explain what started the fire. The tree was not close to the building or any power lines. There wasn't a cloud in the sky. The fire clearly started from the top down. Hmmmm.

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    1. Bob, When I wasn't thinking about the burning bush in the Bible, I was definitely thinking Twilight Zone!

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  4. A tiny meteor fell on the tree and burned the dry stuff?

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    1. Alexia, This is my favorite explanation so far!

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  5. Someone in the office building made a bet with someone that they could flick their cigarette butt and hit the tree. Then someone else joined in and ... well.... there ya go.

    OR someone was flying their little remote helicopter they got for Christmas on their coffee break from one of the windows or perhaps the roof and it crashed and burned on top of the tree.

    What's the name of the little town and let's google the local TV station and see what they say OR the local paper will have a write up in the police beat type section.

    ;)

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    1. Carolyn, We watchers on the train all agreed that the tree was too far from the building to have thrown something from the roof or a window, unless it was propelled somehow. Love the little helicopter idea! I think the town was Auburn. Great idea to see if it made the local news.

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  6. Now that would be interesting if it was Rod or something from the Twilight Zone, but possibly someone may have (tossed a lit cigarette out a window or ?) and everyone on your train may have missed it? I seem to remember talking about things mysteriously igniting in science class...
    ...and thanks for your nice comment on my Saturday Centus post, and sharing it with a friend....maybe she should try Jenny's Saturday Centus!

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    1. Karen, See response to Carolyn's comment about the cigarette theory. And you're welcome for the comment. We had a great time visiting your blog together.

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  7. crazy You can listen Burning Tree music :)

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    1. Burning Tree music--sounds intriguing!

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  8. Hmm... now you've got me thinking... I've heard of self-combustion due to dry needles composting, but in the top of the tree?
    Also, I doubt it would be dry enough in Seattle, especially at this time of year. I'm stumped.

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    1. Well, it was a dry sunny day. Maybe there was a tiny magnifying glass in the top of the tree and the sun's rays....

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  9. OMG you are messin' with my mind. I don't have much of one to begin with; but, stories like this are enough to put me over the top. I have no notion whatever this phenomenon might be---but I hereby order you to stop whatever you are now doing and get back on that train and go back to the town and find out what the H is going on. That means if you have to climb up into the tree, do it! Oh, and BTW---don't forget to take your camera. Hugs :)

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    1. I tried to see a sign that would tell me where it was. I think the town was Auburn, but I couldn't see any street signs for a more specific location and the building didn't have a name on it on the side facing the tracks.

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  10. Some things just can't be explained and I'm not even going to attempt to figure this one out.

    Some things just ARE and they make a good story.

    Thanks for the story and I love Seattle - planning to come in the Spring.

    Living in the possibilities of unexplainable things,
    Nancy

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    1. Nancy, If you make it down to Portland let me know!

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  11. I do not know what it is, but I heard my father describe such an event several times when he was setting up programs to have special needs folks plant new trees in clear cut zones?

    Interesting sites from train windows - always

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    1. That's interesting! I wonder what started the fires? I saw something on National Geographic once about a fire that started when the sun's rays went through a dew drop--like a magnifying glass.

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  12. Wow, that was a strange moment. The question and answers on the comments are also interesting.
    I guess I will just wonder!

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  13. From Murali--

    Galen,
    I was saying that tongue in cheek then, but on a serious
    note, such is life I guess. We move so fast in life, that some things
    just look like a quick blur on the horizon, and though it was just a
    fleeting visual input for us, it may be a whole life changing event
    for others down on the ground near the tree. Some times we just do not
    know, or understand ( or even wish to understand sometimes in some)
    and carry on focusing on the tiny things in our own closed life.When I
    am travelling I look at people and always wonder what kind of life
    they have, where they are headed to or what misfortunes made them what
    they are today ( when I see drunks, druggies etc) and always wonder
    what might have happened if they had not met a burning tree in their
    lives. wasted potential is the saddest thing in life, I guess.
    Sorry. I digress.
    Murali

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  14. What does it mean to you to burn from the top down? Why do you assume all fires start at the bottom and work their way up?

    What is a tree to you? Whatever it represents to you - know that you are the tree.

    We tend to separate ourselves from the situations and symbols that play out before us. They are mirrors of our own making. Situations and events designed for growth and deeper understanding.

    The same message will probably appear in some form in your dreams.

    I can give you some question to query on this if you are really interesting in working through it. If not, well then, I guess it was just a random tree burning and we all go on our merry way.

    Peace~

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    1. Nicole, Yes I would love to hear more of your thoughts and a question to ponder. Please go right ahead!

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  15. That is really weird. It reminds me a bit of those stories of spontaneous combustion which have apparently been well attested, in Victorian times anyhow! I think even Dickens mentions a case.

    I think what puzzles me about this is that the top of the tree was apparently burning, yet afterwards it looked lush and green. If it hadn't been for that, I'd have said that one half of the tree (the half facing away from you) had burnt but the other half hadn't.

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    1. Jenny, Really? I'm going to have to do some research! Your idea might be true. The firefighters were standing on the side of the tree facing the train, but maybe the water was going through to the other side. Of course that still doesn't explain how it started. Hmmm.

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