The Summer Adventure Continues:
When we got back from our cruise we turned on our phones and computers and were greeted with the news that the long, very hot summer had turned ugly. It seemed as though the eastern part of Washington and southern British Columbia were on fire.
We arrived back at our place and our dog sitter/watering lady told us that the Fruitland Valley (about 5 miles place) was in danger of burning from the Carpenter Creek fire. We got unpacked and drove up to see. The smoke obscured any hope of seeing much so we went home and waited. The next day our cruise companions headed back to Utah and we made sure all the grass around the house was cut. Over the next few days we had reports of homesteads being burnt out and one man died of a heart attack when he went back to his property to get a tractor.
Our small community sprung into action. A relief station was set up to accept donations of food and money for the now homeless. The Red Cross set up at the High School and the fire fighters set up camps in the threatened areas. We received a Level 3 evacuation Notice and packed up our valuables to take out in the trailer if we had to go. We had the advantage of being able to take our home with us if need be.
The wind shifted and blew the fire away from us but the smoke was dreadful, Dale’s cardiologist told us to get out of town and away from the smoke but we would have to travel all the way to the coast to find a smoke free place. We had no intention of going that far away from our property when it was in danger.
Just when there was hope that the fire fighters might get a handle on the fire and the smoke had left the lake area, a strong wind came up. Within the span of one hour a huge cloud formed behind our place behind the small mountain. It was black at the bottom but had turned white as it rose to a remarkable height as it raced across the mountain tops. Our mail road was closed that day and for a week more.
Although we were safe from the fire, many others weren’t and we got daily reports from our friends about the status of there land and buildings. There was a real shortage of fire fighters and planes and for a while I thought many more homes would be destroyed. At least three of our friends had the fire come within 50 ft of their houses. Another area in the State lost 4 firefighters and had one with serious burns. A 94 year old woman lost her beautiful log home but was safe herself. Wildlife suffered. A small herd of elk succumbed. It was a time of great tension and sorrow for our community. Now a month later we are still seeing and feeling the results of the chaos. There is some question about the origin of the fire and an arson investigation has been initiated. What a terrible idea that this may have been avoided.
* Yesterday we had an occasion to go into what was the hottest of the fire. The landscape something out of a horror movie. Although the sun was shining it hardly penetrated the blackened woods. The road was just a foot of powdered dirt and cracked rocks. was completely burnt, trees were blackened sticks or stumps. Sometimes I could see holes where the tree roots used to be. We passed the almost unrecognisable remains of burnt out homesteads. One place had a large propane tank with a hole in the top. A neighbor told us that when that caught on fire the flames reached over 30 feet. Fortunately our friends who live up there were able to save their house, a two story beautiful wood house made of kotty pine. But the fires came within 40 ft of their dwellings. Their neighbors weren’t as lucky. It was a sobering drive. The only upbeat minute was when, in worst part of the fire, I spotted a large patch of new grass about 5 inches high. The amazing resilience of nature!!