Tuesday afternoon, my phones (land and cell) started ringing about the same time. Can't remember one of them, then a daughter with questions at the store, then a couple of others. Some (one?) I had to just let go to voicemail. When I went to pick it up, it was a friend from out in the Eagle Mountain area, WAY far away for all intents and purposes. She was wondering how we were doing because she'd just looked out her window and saw we had a big fire out here.
Huh? I walked out into the back yard, looked at the sky, sniffed the air, listened... I thought for a minute I might have heard a siren, but then it was gone. I had NO IDEA what she was talking about. Yeah, I walked out the wrong door. Shortly thereafter, maybe five minutes, (who knows?) one of the kids walked in and said, um, you should come look at the smoke out here. This is what we saw:
See, nine years ago, we were evacuated during the Cedar Fire in San Diego. Our community got off easy. We "only" lost 18 homes. The fire took more than 2200 total. And my kids remember, they remember the black smoke behind us as we left. They remember the smells, the watching, the waiting. And the ones who didn't remember had older ones to tell them.
Then there are the current concerns. Not only do we have our home here, but we can't just run out the door. Even if the fire was at the doorstep, it does take at least a few minutes to switch to an oxygen tank, switch the ventilator to an away mode, and grab Aaron and get out the door. So not knowing exactly where and how fast the fire was moving, we moved into high gear.
First we moved all the oxygen out of the house and into the car. Then it was the photos, and other memorabilia. While this was happening, Aaron decided he wasn't real happy either. His heart rate climbed, his oxygen saturation dipped. So I gave him the first of many breathing treatments he'd get over the next few days. And the whole time, the clouds of smoke are getting bigger and blacker.
Everything Aaron would need was put in his room. His food and meds went into a cooler that could be grabbed quickly. Extra supplies were in the car. I tried to think of everything. Because while the Red Cross can help you with clean clothes and a toothbrush, they don't stock ventilator circuits, inhallation water, or pulse/oximeter probes. They may serve dinner, but they don't have pediatric formulas or g-tube supplies. We organized who was to get and grab what medical equipment, and in what order if we had to leave. A plan was made as we also prayed we wouldn't have to put it into practice.
I called up to our wonderful home vent coordinator at Primarys and we came up with a treatment plan. Instead of giving Aaron breathing treatments as he needed them, we decided to give them scheduled around the clock. This way we would try to stay ahead of the eight ball. I also put another filter on his ventilator. Then we had a talk. I told him that all his friends at the fire station were busy trying to help other people He needed to behave, because they were needed elsewhere. And guess what? Happy, wonderful child that he is, he did. He didn't sleep. No, not that. On the albuterol, his heart rate was elevated enough that he was awake for the better part of the next 48 hours. But at least he was happy, and breathing. Two things we're very grateful for!!
So the watching process began. The fire waxed and waned. It climbed our beautiful mountains. Planes came in dropping retardant. And we had prime seating for the whole show, right outside our door.
Day 1 A Hot Time in the Old Town Tonight
By evening, the evacuation lines had been drawn all the way down the side of our little town. The mandatory line of demarcation was only three blocks to the east of us.
I wasn't sure how sleeping would go that night, but decided that with two nurses (one was orienting that night) on watch in the living room, if anything changed, we would find out quickly. Once I went to sleep, I slept well.
Day 2, July 4th, Independence DayMorning came, and it smelled like we had a campfire going. The mountain appeared to be smoldering more than anything at that time. The winds had shifted during the night and blew the smoke back down into our valley. And it still reminded me of the scenes of Mordor in the Lord of the Rings.
The fire rose and fell as it encountered different terrain, and different fuels. When the pines went up, especially the old copses, it would flare ferociously. And I would hold my breath, wondering how much closer it would come.
About 10 o'clock on the 4th, about the time the fireworks shows were getting going, the mountain put on a spectacular show of it's own. I'm told that the flames could be seen from miles away, clear up into the Salt Lake Valley, and across the lake into the western part of our county. I wouldn't know. Again, our seats were up front and personal. Mary and William watched from the front porch and Mary said they could hear the fire. It was that loud.
Here is the progression over about six minutes. One in particular looked decidedly like the dragon it was imitating. We took that picture and blew it up for our firefighters. Then I took it over to the station today.
We went to bed that night still praying for rain. The terrain is so rugged and steep. It is the side of a mountain. There is only so much that man can do about this.
Day 3 Prayers are answered
We wake again to the smell of smoke, but something else as well. It has been dry here, so very dry. That's why the mountain (and all the other areas around the west) have been going up so fast. But this morning, this wonderful morning, I felt humidity in the air. And there were clouds, normal clouds with water in them, not smoke.
It was cool, down in the low 70's from the upper 90's the day before. The boys played in the rain, and we unloaded the car.
Mary baked just over 160 pumpkin-chocolate chip muffins, a family favorite that we took over to the incident command center at the high school this morning. I hope they enjoyed them.
|The mountain one year ago, |
and then yesterday