Friday, February 15, 2013

Flames In The Night.....

Chillin' on the couch after dinner when Clyde walked by the front window and said "oh s_ _ _, there's a big fire outside."  Although I'd been hearing strange popping sounds outside, I never bothered to get up and look.  This time of year in Panam√° is the dry season when it's common for grass fires to pop up just about anywhere.  And since the locals love to burn trash, grass and just about anything else, the smell of smoke in the air is as common as the sound of geckos.

The fire we witnessed was in a large, empty field across the street from our neighbors house.  The flames reached high into the night sky as we stood and watched in fascination.  The old firemen in Clyde assured me that the wind was blowing in the other direction, so the flames posed no harm to us or our house.  I had to wonder if anyone else called the fire department or perhaps we should?  Clyde pulled out his phone and dialed 911 and after many rings someone answered.  He explained to the voice on the other end that his Spanish was basic and she asked "do you need an ambulance?" in Spanish of course.  He explained back that he needed the "bomberos" and she immediately transferred him to he fire department.  Once he had a firefighter on the line he explained there was a large grass fire and told him where we lived.  Within minutes we saw the blue flashing lights of a fire truck come around the corner.  They backed the truck into the field taking aim at the head of the fire, which Clyde said was the right thing to do. He was impressed with how quick they arrived and how fast they took action.  He snapped some pictures and watched them in action, bringing back so many memories of the many fires he put out back in Texas.

The Bomberos Arrive!
Within a few minutes I have to add!

Bomberos to the Rescue!
I walked back to the house amazed to discover that 911 really does work here.  We've asked several of our Panamanian friends who all said they had no idea if or how it worked.  Our house is within a mile of both the police and fire stations should we ever need them for an emergency.  And the firefighters here are also paramedics just like Clyde was during his career.  As I sat down to blog I noticed the blue lights of the bomberos heading back to the station to get ready for another call.  And we can go to sleep tonight feeling safe and secure that the cops and firemen are right around the corner....along the gringo trail.


  1. So 911 does actually work? Great. I've told people before that we do have 911, but that I'd never used it, and in fact, I don't think I know anyone else who has. So this is great. I've used the local police number for the neighborhood, but never tried good ol' 911. It's nice to know that it works well here.

  2. We've had quite a few fires around here too, some attended by the bomberos. People don't seem nearly as worried about them as they were in the US though. I'm sure it helps that the houses are concrete with tin roofs. I've never tried 911 here.


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