Life in A Wildfire

If you read my blog last Wednesday, you know I am now living in the West Fire Complex Wildfire in the Rio Grande National Forest.

Yep, that’s right.  I’m living in a forest wildfire.

West Fork Fire Complex Statistics:   
Start Date: 06/05/2013
Percent Contained: 2%
Cause:  Lightning
Complex Size:  92, 176 acres
                       Windy Pass: 1,416 acres
                       Papoose: 34,272 acres
                       West Fork: 56,488 acres

Pablo Picasso said: “The artist is a receptacle for emotions that come from all over the place: from the sky, from the earth, from a scrap of paper, from a passing shape, from a spider’s web.”

What fodder the West Fork Complex wildfire is providing this writer!

Our adventure began with the 6 a.m. reverse 911 call on Friday, June 21st, that announced we had to evacuate our home.

Not unexpected. The community meeting the night before had warned of the possibility.

However, possibility is not reality and reality was HARD.

Looking around our little house filled with one third of what we’d had before we moved here in March and knowing we could lose it all sent lumps to our throats and tears to our eyes.

How – beyond the necessary paper documents – do you decide what to load into your cars when you only have four hours? Plus, you’d already downsized considerably to what you wanted or needed.

Wasn’t easy.

We settled on all the quilts my husband’s mother made, a wooden carving of a woman praying my father made for me, some pieces of silver from my mother’s family, a Van Briggle vase titled Lorelei that once belonged to my husband’s sister, two antique clocks, a 1840s porcelain inkwell from Vienna, and a Victorian chatelaine.

Crazy list, right? But, that’s what fit in the small suitcase or around the other stuff in the car. And, each of those items holds precious memories.

We also loaded our laptops and one printer. Tools of our trade that we couldn’t do without.

One of our friends took two of my favorite paintings by Barbara Rudolph, To Kill A Mockingbird and Tell Me A Story to his place in Del Norte until all the danger is gone.

If you’re not familiar with Barbara Rudolph’s work, check out her website. She’s an extremely talented artist who combines objects with birds and creates paintings that capture moments guaranteed to bring a smile to your face. My two pictures have special meaning to me for many reasons, and I can’t wait until I don’t live in a wildfire to get them back.

As we’re packing the cars, firefighters pull our barbeque propane tank and spare gasoline cans to the street. We’d already turned off the propane tank that serves our house and hot water heater. They’re not happy that we have so many trees in our backyard and tell us the outlook isn’t good. We need to leave soon.

We thank them for protecting our home and assure them we are leaving. We never stayed when the Gulf coast hurricane warnings said leave either.

With the two cars loaded with our most precious things and our two four-legged boys, Toby and Buster, we say a prayer for safety and protection, and lock the front door. With the smoke cloud growing, we drive away.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAlone in my car, I look one last time at our little house and wonder if we’ll ever see it again. Tears I didn’t want to shed in front of my husband come.

CIMG0705But, I remind myself it’s just stuff. A phrase I repeat often over the next week.

We bypassed the Red Cross shelter set up in the Del Norte high school gymnasium fifteen miles away from South Fork. Shelters don’t allow dogs inside with owners.

Facilities for small animals and large animals were available, but I didn’t want to be separated from our pets. We’d find a pet friendly motel.

We went through four towns checking availability. There were no rooms. Alamosa State University in Alamosa offered dormitory rooms, but again we’d have to leave our pets at the facility provided.

We’d gone from a big house full of stuff to a small house full of stuff to two cars with all our worldly belongings. I couldn’t leave my babies behind in Monte Vista.

We kept going until Trinidad, Colorado, nearly four hours away. The Holiday Inn Hotel there had a room and allowed pets. We unpack and settle in for the short duration, we thought.

Toby Buster chilling in Trinidad-2Amazingly, the dogs don’t even bark when we leave to go to the restaurant for dinner. They were too happy to be out of the car and with their humans.

But after a long weekend, we want closer to home so we can find out what’s going on with the fire instead of relying on the media.

Next blog you’ll learn about the next phase of our adventure living in a wildfire.

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3 Comments on “Life in A Wildfire

  1. Pingback: Déjà vu Wildfires and Round Rabbits | View from the Front Porch

  2. I want so much to leave an encouraging remark to let you know we are thinking of you and caring, but for once my tongue is tied. All right, all right, you are now rejoicing. Jody has no words. Your blight is beyond me. Just know that many, many prayers are following you through this time. Or would the phrase be leading you?

    Your b

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