I’m tempted to say “I’ve been there.”
Memories of the not-so-Bland Mountain Fire bring to mind what hell might be—to be so immersed in fatigue; wallowing wholly in sleep deprived saturation; eyes gritty with ash; fire shirt and pants grey with ash; snot-clogged nostrils packed with ash, and that’s just on the walk to the line. If there is a line that day; you may just be floundering through the black, ever seeking the flaming front; through the patchy green; more black; spires of black, rocks of black, dust of black; soil black; skin gray only because the puffy ash somehow targets the moving human.
All else is black; it reeks burnt; it smells burnt; the charcoal is burnt; the ash is burnt; everything is blasted and burnt and black unless its gray. Monochrome horrorscape. But this only describes the view, so to speak.
Not the feeling.
Hell being of everlasting torment, one must pause at the twisted carcass of a deer, and think what that tormented creature felt as the strange wind build and battered her fur; now the forest muttered darkly as if the trees would shortly rend themselves asunder; the crackle and whiff and smoke and heat…first radiant; then growing, suffusing, enveloping; the labored gasping of air-sucking flight; then the desperate gasping as air is sucked from the forest, sucked from her chest; consumed by the maelstrom; radiant heat becomes embracing flame; no mere tendrils but a vomiting wall of orange-black horror erupts as if from nothing and becomes everything: wall of flame; sheet of flame; flames licking; there is no smell for heat sterilizes all; flames fly dozens, then hundreds of feet toward the heavens as earth burns in hell.
And this is one mere creature; one deer among many departed and fallen.
Yet a few hundred yards away, two others fell, loggers whose tombstone is a charred log yarder beneath which they sought shelter and found only suffocation and death.
For the creature in its last moment, for the men in their last moments, the earth, sky, air, and heavens are but flame; all flame; only flame. Flame. All. Flame.
Their passing was in horror. May their rest be in peace.