Monday, September 20, 2010

On Fire and Evacuating

Hurriedly packing bags, gathering important papers and pictures, and preparing kids and pets to leave home is not the way someone wants to spend their Sunday evening. But yesterday I found myself and my husband doing just that. A wild fire, sparked by National Guard machine gun practice at Camp Williams here in Utah, started sweeping across the hills just to the south of my house yesterday afternoon. As we read and listened to the lastest information throughout the evening, my 14 year-old daughter said, "This doesn't happen to us. This happens to other people." This time we were the other people.

It was a very strange and surreal thing to watch the flames move across the hills. Our house backs up to some smaller hills (not the ones on fire), and as the moon was rising the smoke above our hills glowed red, and the moon reflected the color in an amazing display. It was stranger still to pack things to take with us in the event we decided to leave our home. Fire is a strange creature, and while the winds were taking the fire away from us, we worried they could change direction at any time.

Of course I packed clothes, important papers like birth certificates, car titles, social security cards, marriage certificates, and pictures that couldn't be replaced. But as I stood in the middle of the main level of my house and looked at everything else we'd leave behind, I kept wondering if I should take more things. I knew it was just "stuff" and that "stuff" could be replaced, but I still wondered. We were leaving voluntarily--other neighborhoods had been told to leave. Was it easier if you had to leave quickly, rather than to stand there second-guessing yourself because you had time?

I'm blessed to have an Aunt nearby who has a house big enough to accommodate our family plus pets, and my sister's family, so that's where we headed when we decided it was time to go. As we drove down the highway we had a perfect view of the fire, a bright red-orange ribbon in the night, and I wondered what the neighborhoods would look like in the morning. I wondered how much damage there would be and what would be left.

As I write this, over 4,300 acres have burned and the fire is mostly contained. And to the tremendous credit of the police, fire departments, disaster response teams, The American Red Cross, and volunteers, evacuees who were displaced were tended to, and all but 3 of the 100's of homes in the path of the fire were saved. There were no fatalities, and only a handful of injuries (that I know of). I am so thankful for the selfless efforts of these people and for the miracles they have performed in the last 24+ hours.

Thank you, all of you.

(Photo credit: I pulled the picture off our local news website. There was no photographer listed. If anyone knows who took the picture please let me know.)

You can see more pictures and read more about the fire here and here.


  1. So glad that you're all safe! Sure makes you take stock of what's important when an emergency arises.
    The photo is amazing.

  2. Wow! How scary that is! I cannot even think of having to pack up personal things and leave like that. Note to self, make sure important paperwork is all in one place in case of an emergency.

    Thank God it's mostly contained and you and your family are safe.

  3. Thank goodness you and your family are safe. And now your children know that when life does happen to you and not the other guys, it's okay. You can handle it and come out on the other side.

  4. Wow, that's scary! Glad to know you are safe and that nobody was killed. I can't imagine standing there wondering if this would be the last time you'd see your house and belongings - that's intense.

  5. Thanks for the well-wishes, everyone. It was an experience I hope to never repeat. Have a great day :)

  6. How frightening for all of you. It's so different to hear about a disaster when I know someone who has been affected. Take care -- I'm sure you're giving your family extra hugs today.


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