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Lights, Sirens, and the Paranormal

The supposed ghost of Danny Pierce was not the only unexplained encounter that occurred at Mount Saint Helens in the summer of 1986. To be honest, that whole trip was kind of weird, but nothing was as strange as what happened on the night we visited the volcano.

Some of the sirens heard that night were police sirens.
Police Cars

Dad found a campground at a state park north of Mount Saint Helens, where we settled down that afternoon. I spent much of that day playing along the narrow creek that ran through the campground and helping some kids who were spear fishing in the water. That evening, we sat around a campfire and listened to a ranger talk on the eruption.

I remember that earlier that day, after we had visited the Toutle River, Dad told me to keep my ears open for “a high-low siren” that was a sign that the volcano was going to erupt. I listened out the open window, but the siren sound never came. In a way I was disappointed, something I thought about as I lay down in my tent and tried to sleep.

Sometime in the middle of the night, I was suddenly awakened by a series of loud noises. It sounded like several police and fire sirens going off at once. Hovering over it all was the howl of an air raid siren, which made me jump. I wondered if Dad’s warning had come true and the volcano was erupting, but we were pretty far away for that.

When I opened my eyes, I saw the second part of the weird phenomenon. The whole tent was lit up by flashing red, white, and blue lights. Wherever the lights were coming from, they were on the other side of the forest, because I could see the shadows of trees on the tent walls.

I was really worried now. When I tried to wake my tent mate, who was sleeping next to me, nothing happened. She didn’t even groan, she just continued sleeping as if nothing strange were going on. I decided that if she wasn’t going to wake up, I’d have to get Dad to see what was going on.

When I unzipped the tent door and ran outside, I found myself in a rather bizarre environment. The flashing lights were all around me, blinking in and out as the sirens continued to howl in the background. It was just like a bad psychedelic trip. I could see the outline of the van in the distance, but it was dark and it was clear that Dad was also asleep.

I quickly looked to the neighboring campsite. The tents were dark and no one was moving. In fact, no one in the entire campground seemed to be awake to see or hear this strange phenomenon. I was the only one who noticed.

For some reason I didn’t like this and started to feel uncomfortable. I ran back into the tent, zipped up the door, and dived into my sleeping bag, where I covered my ears and wept. The sirens continued loudly outside, their vibration so intense that it shook the tent poles. Why was no one else awake for this? That was a question I never answered.

I must’ve eventually fallen asleep, because when I woke up and it was morning. Birds were singing peacefully and there were no lights or sirens. The only noise that remained from last night was the hum of a generator near the bathrooms.

When I came out of the tent, I expected to see a disaster area. Nothing was a miss. I looked around for a source of a siren, like something on a pole, but there were no sirens in the campground or near the campground. Not even a nearby fire station. When we checked out of the campground and drove off, there was no sign that there had been an accident on the road, either.

Before we left, I told Dad all about the lights and sirens I’d seen the night before. As usual, he didn’t take me seriously, just kind of humoring my story as if I were just a child making up tall tales. He didn’t discuss the matter again and I didn’t bring it up. What was the use?

To this day, I don’t know what caused the weird phenomenon at that campground. As an adult I went back to investigate the site with fresh eyes. Again, I found no police or fire stations near the campground. There were no sirens on posts or towers around the site. There certainly were no strobe lights in multiple colors that would’ve flashed in the night.

Was it all a dream? No, it was not. When I woke up the next day, there was still dirt caking my feet from when I walked barefoot in the driveway outside the tent. It wouldn’t have come from earlier that day, because that was the only time I came out of the tent without shoes. Dad was pretty strict about wearing shoes in the campground, telling horror stories about things stepped on by Vietnam War soldiers.

So if it wasn’t a dream, what caused the phenomenon? Could it have been an accident on the road? Well, if it was, it must’ve been a rather large one, and that would’ve left evidence behind the next morning. Also, police and fire officials don’t normally leave sirens running at the accident scene, and these sirens sounded for a good two hours before I fell asleep.

Could it have been some sort of test of an emergency system? First of all, these are usually conducted in broad daylight so that officials can check the equipment. Secondly, those tests don’t last two hours. Lastly, there were no lights or sirens around the campground to be tested. Also remember that most emergency sirens also don’t come with lights; it’s just a speaker broadcasting the sound.

So far most of the possibilities I have come up with are easily ruled out. The only thing we are left with is a strong possibility of a paranormal event. But what sort of paranormal phenomenon caused the chaos? To this day, I just don’t know.

There is a part two to this story, though. Twenty-three years after the fact, the same day I investigated the state park where the incident took place, I drove to Silver Lake, Washington, and stayed at another campground within a different state park.

Sometime in the middle of the night, I was awakened by a single police siren approaching from the north. It slowed down and stopped at what sounded like the entrance to the park, the siren still blaring. Curiously, I got out of the tent and peered through the forest to the park entrance. There was nothing there. No car, no lights. Nothing. Yet I still heard the siren clearly.

A cold chill ran through my body and I went back to the tent. This time I didn’t cover my ears and cry. Instead, I stayed awake listening to the siren and wondering about that experience from when I was seven years old. Noting that, once again, no one in the campground stirred.


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