When you live near the forest, in the country, one of the things that you have to be prepared to face is fire. We live 1/2 mile from the Bitterroot Mountains, and our property is mostly treed. So it was inevitable that in 2009 a forest fire started (or was purposely started) in the canyon at the end of our road.
At first, it was a small fire that probably could have been easily handled. The Forest Service, in typical government fashion, decided to let it burn. Of course, they’ll deny this but they actually said in a news story or press release that they were going to let it burn. Later when everyone got really mad about how the fire was handled, they denied saying it. Anyway, with high winds it quickly started to burn out of control. It started about 3 miles back in the canyon, so 3-1/2 miles away from our home, but with 60-mile-per-hour winds, guess how quickly it could have been at our doorstep? We frequently have windy afternoons.
We actually were under a pre-evacuation order, which means they want you to start thinking about packing up. One night I went outside to see if I could see the fire, and to my horror the entire hillside a few miles north of us was on fire! The wind had kicked up and the fire had jumped into the next canyon and was burning down toward the valley floor very quickly. When I saw that I ran inside and told him we needed to start packing immediately. We packed our valuables and a lot of his chiropractic equipment into the back of our big Chevy stake bed truck and drove over to a friend’s house. Three or so days later we brought it all back.
A few weeks later we had a severe wind warning, which can mean the kind of wind that would bring the fire to our property, so we packed up again, drove to our friends house and actually unpacked everything. When something like this happens it really makes you evaluate what is important in your life. I realized that as long as my animals and my husband were safe, nothing else really mattered. If the worst happened, we would rebuild our house and make something new and wonderful.
We left our things at our friends house since we really didn’t know what was going to happen. The fire started in the middle of July, and it was three months before the weather in the mountains was cold enough to snow and put out the fire. It was the most stressful three months of our lives! I’m really glad our house didn’t burn down but it was a good lesson in putting things in perspective.