They emerged from the smoke . . . and I was glad PART ONE Stouts Fire

stouts fire crew on cow creek roadToday I went back to my home to pick up more items I had left behind when we were evacuated on Friday due to the approaching Stouts Creek fire. I drove around a smokey corner on Cow Creek Road to see the best site – the fire crews protecting our homes.

Today was day four of the Stouts Creek fire near my home in Southern Oregon. From a spark on Thursday to 15000 plus acres last night, this racing, wild creature has been fed by record hot weather and miles of mountain timber land.

The moment I and my neighbors heard about the approaching fire our lives changed. No home needed to burn before for our sense of security and familiarity was shaken. Our world was different and so were we.

There is a reverse 911 call system here. Residents get auto calls when emergencies happen. Thursday we were called to be prepared to evacuate. That first call was a Level One. Level Three would mean GO NOW.

The questions that ran though my mind when I got the call I imagine had cousins taking residence in the minds of many of my neighbors.

What to pack? What really was meaningful?
Leave now or wait?
Would it take our homes by ridge running and tree crowning assault or would floating embers be our nemesis?

Friday when the phone rang again, I looked at it. That sound took me back to Bruce being in Nam and I, a 19 year old bride, waiting for that dreaded call. It took me back to that call in December 2011 when I heard my son Robin had died.

I shook my head of past images and picked up the phone. The auto call said our area was Level Three evacuation, GO NOW.

It had jumped from one to three. That was not fair. I wanted order, but fire has its own rules.

My husband Ray had taken the dogs and one load out earlier. I stayed to set water lines and pack things, thinking danger was low level from the reports I was reading on line.

Then the call to GO NO came and I did.

I left behind momentos and things of dollar value, none worth risking safety over, mine or the fire fighters.

Today a break in the weather allowed us to go back to our homes to gather more belongings. My son Ryan, his wife Ali and Ray and I headed out Upper Cow Creek Road, not planning to stay. We planned to sweep through, pack and leave again.

My home, like my neighbor Wayne’s, is in a steep-sided valley closest to the fire and staying, even if allowed, was not safe.

PART TWO: A Sunday Drive I never expected to make will be posted next. It is a photo journal of the drive through the smoke to find wonderful fire crews.

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