We don’t know how this story will end, but all we can share is what happened and our emotional devastation. In preparation for truffle season, we have been trimming the grasses in the orchard and hand watering all the trees to compensate for the lack of precipitation. Armed with only a gasoline hand trimmer, our worker was tasked with cleaning up the orchard. We are two months away from our first harvest, but our anticipation was high… given the steady yearly increases in the harvests. After 10 years of hard work and investment, we were finally seeing a light on the horizon.
On Wednesday afternoon, while preparing for our first AE Invites cocktail event, I get a call from Angel. I could hear it in his voice. The orchard was on fire. It is burning. My mind was blank. I couldn’t process the information. My brain wasn’t computing. I was checking out at METRO… and I went into a state of shock. My daughter Boryana was just looking at me and observing my reaction, knowing something was wrong. I couldn’t process this… I could feel the tears welling. I told Angel that I would call him later. I needed to get out outside. I was rushing to MIAM for the Cherry Rakia cocktail. I went into autopilot and just kept moving forward with what I had to do. I felt lightheaded…
When I got to MIAM, I told Radina what had happened. I unloaded the car and began preparations for the event. Once I finished, I called Angel. The fire department was there trying to contain the fire. The winds were changing and it was not only our orchard that we at risk, but the entire hillside. It was a tinderbox waiting to blow. Our worker, was using the grass trimmer. He re-filled the fuel and when pulling the cord. It caught fire. He left it in the tall grass, and called Angel. We don’t know exactly what happened. But he apparently panicked and did nothing, trying to beat the fire with a metal pipe. Angel was at the distillery, 3km away and by the time he arrived with the water truck, 10 minutes later, it was out of control.
There was not much that I could do from Sofia, so I called the Marcos, the truffle expert that we are working with. He wasn’t immediately available, as he was at a truffle event in California. When I finally did reach him, he gave me some mildly positive news. If the fire passed through quickly, which it did, the mycorrhiza could survive. The trees were hardy and could endure as well, but only time will tell.
We are currently in the process of watering the trees again to give them some additional moisture to combat what was lost in the fire. It doesn’t look as bad as it could have. Had the grasses in the orchard not been trimmed it could have been infinitely worse. The sections of the orchard that had the most damaged were those that had not been trimmed yet. 75% of the orchard was clean. The true effects of the damage, will not be known till next spring.
For all our truffle hunters and truffle lovers, we will start hunting for truffles in December. Until we start hunting, we will not be able to know the true extent of the damage. Our truffles hunts were expected to start January 6th, but for the moment, they are on hold. We appreciate your patience and hope to have more news in the coming months… in the mean time. Please send good thoughts our way! Thank you.