We just experienced a fire. We have lived in the mountains for six years and this is the first time I have experienced this kind of fear. I was making the bed and opened the windows and I saw a plume of smoke coming up from the hill near my neighbor’s house. I wondered, what is going on? The smoke started getting thicker and thicker and I ran outside to see what was happening. I ran back inside and called my husband. It was then my heart started beating faster. My husband told me to wet down the roof, so I grabbed the hose and started wetting down everything.
Then I saw flames rising about 10-20 feet above my nearer neighbor’s house, and occasionally the smoke was black—indicating a structure was burning. I thought my neighbor’s house was going to burn up. He has several dogs I pictured dying inside his house and I started to cry. I kept wetting down the house, all the while watching as the fire raced up the hill near my other neighbor’s house, and I thought that it was going to burn as well!
I wondered where the fire department was. I finally saw flashing lights near the top of our road, but I kept wondering, will they be able to save our houses? Then my husband arrived and within a few minutes, so did the sheriff, who said we had to evacuate. It was then I realized that I may be coming home later to nothing. We grabbed our cat, stuffed him into a kitty-carrier, and then drove down the road, past flames, fire personnel and lots of fire trucks.
We went to the highway and drove down to a vista point, where we could watch the drama unfold. People pulled over and were watching. I wanted to scream, Hey! That’s my house over there! I told a few people but I just had to stand there and watch. The helicopters flew overhead, dumping water and fire retardant and I cheered inside my heart each time they did so.
We then watched in horror as the fire jumped our road and set a hillside ablaze, right next to another neighbor’s house. The first fly-by of the helicopter missed; the second helicopter dropped the water and it was a direct hit and we cheered out loud this time!
The sheriff wouldn’t let us return to the house for quite a while, as the fire crews were making sure that the smoldering area would not reignite; we talked with our other neighbors, and got to know them better. One poor guy just went out for pizza, and hadn’t been able to return; his wife showed up, very worried. She had not been willing to evacuate their home and then feared something had happened to her husband. Finally the sheriff gave us the go-ahead, and a convoy of cars rumbled up the road, surveying now what looked like a war zone.
I popped out of my car and walked over to a group of firefighters and thanked them for their service; I called them the “unsung heroes of the event” and they sheepishly said, “You’re welcome.” I know it’s their job, but all I could picture in my mind was the Colorado Springs fire and how these brave lads staved off such a disaster for us.
What did I learn from all of this? “No man is an island” to quote the poet John Donne; we all rely on each other, because what we do or don’t do effects each other. Our lives do matter, even if we keep to ourselves. A lot of times people move to the mountains to get away from it all—yet that fire taught me that no matter where you are, you still need people. My church family called me when the fire started, to check in and see how we were doing. They hugged us at church and still are emailing me to see if we are OK.
The moral of the story? We need each other: to laugh with, to cry with and to walk with as we journey through this life.
For a photo gallery of the event, go to my husband’s blog at: claytonecramer.blogspot.com
Precious God: You are so good. I thank You for Your provision and that no one was hurt nor lost their house. I pray for those who have lost all; Your comfort comes through the hugs and tears of Your children. Let us always be mindful of how much we truly need You and each other. Always in Your Son’s precious Name, amen.