Photo journal of a Sunday drive I never expected to make – Stouts Creek fire Part Two

The Stouts Creek Fire had spread to 15000 acres, its south flank nearing my valley and the home where our children were born and my first husband Bruce had died. It was Sunday and we were being allowed back in to pack up more belongings. It was a drive I was glad and sad to make. There were momentos I wanted to get. But I was a bit afraid of what I might see. It turned out to be a Sunday drive that touched my heart.
smokey skies on cow creek road. We turned off I-5 and headed up Cow Creek Road, the smoke turning the sky an odd yellow and the air a silent haze of aloneness.


Galesville Reservoir sometimes strikes tourists as curious with its dead trees rising out of the water. Today the smoke framed the trees making water, sky, and mountain indistinguishable from each other in a hazy painting of gray.
eagles nest at Galesville Dam

The eagles who each year come back to Galesville to hatch their young could be seen above the lake. I wondered if the young were old enough to fly away yet. For now they peered over their nest at us as we took a moment to focus on life and birth.

IMG_2329 We passed Snow Creek Road, heading up into the level three evacuation zone. Here and there fire trucks were tucked into driveways, staging for what we all hoped would never happen… fire reaching Cow Creek.

There were fewer trucks today than Friday. The weather was cooler and the fire had shifted slightly toward Drew, Oregon. Some of the fire trucks were allocated elsewhere.

That was good news which we did not expect. We knew, however, that our breather meant Drew community families sadly had joined this “club of waiting” that none of us wanted to join.

EDITS21334 I did not know that historical buildings were wrapped with fire retardant material but I am glad the old Cow Creek Community Center was. My children went to school there; we had community meetings and food co-ops there. We did Easter egg hunts, Halloween parties and memorial services in the old wood building.

I looked at the building as we drove past, seeing beyond the smoke and silver wrapping to the faces of my neighbors over the years. Some had died. Many had grown up and moved away,coming back to visit with their children. We would meet at the Center and take the yearly community photo.

It was healing in a way that the fire crews were taking extra care with this record of our community’s lives.

EDITS1311 The CCC buildings at Devils Flat were wrapped too. They have stood there since the 30’s when the WPA crews came up here to build roads.

Over the years, families from all over have camped here. My son Ryan and my daughter-in-law Ali were married here. Johnnie’s memorial service was held here, his children Shanti and Amber surrounded by classmates and neighbors who had watched them grow.

EDITS21320 Fire trucks and crews increased in number once we came to Devils Flat. From there to my house at the 18 mile mark they were clearing brush, falling limbs, and scraping the ground to make fire breaks.

We said thank you to the fire workers as we drove by, a thank you that holds so many more emotions than the words could express. They were there to save our homes.


As we drove around the last corner toward our land, this crew of workers emerged out of the smoke. We talked to a couple of them and they had set up watering systems, cleared our land and even were hauling in holding tanks.

We went up to our homes, loading up a few more things. As we left to go back to Gold Hill, I looked back again at these fire workers who were caring for our homes.
# stoutsfire crews on cow creek I do not know tonight if the fire will still take our home but I go to sleep with awe and appreciation for those folks out there. They touched my heart.

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5 thoughts on “Photo journal of a Sunday drive I never expected to make – Stouts Creek fire Part Two

  1. Thank you so much for posting this. I live in Pennsylvania but have family in the Days Creek area so I am following this closely. My brother and his wife are part of the fire fighiting team and our thoughts and prayers are with them and everyone afffected by this fire.

    Godspeed to you and your family.

  2. My daughter lives up that way… She wrote me the most fascinating email regarding her evacuation and how she wouldn’t go till she got every last cat into her car. I can’t believe the intestinal fortitude of the residents who live there. I was amazed and heartbroken at the same time. I have such admiration for all of you.. And even though I don’t live there I have such admiration, respect and am thankful for such dedicated fire personel.

    Thank you all so much. Thank you for writing this and sharing it with those of us who can only imagine….

    Cristinas Mom

  3. Thank you Shaun for the pictorial, I too have so many Cow Creek memories and pray for the preservation of all that beautiful country and the safety of the many famlies who live there now.

  4. Thats the engine im driving under the bald eagle picture. We are still on this road and will be tomorrow. If you need anything ask. We’re more than happy to help. Thanks for the kind words.

  5. Shawn
    so happy to have read your safe and your place is safe is well, wonderful pictorial of the event’s. Thank godness for the wonderful fire fighters.

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