This video captures the intensity of the wind and the early stages of the fire approaching.
It started small… only 10 acres when we first saw it. (These photos are ALL taken off our balcony.) The Tinder Fire was 2-1/2 miles from us at Kinder Crossing. We figured the Forest Service would put it out, and that would be that. That was Friday.
But it continued to grow… and fast. By Saturday it was 500 acres and we were given pre-evacuation notices. They were just being cautious… right?! We just lost our truck and camper to a fire a mere 8 months ago. We just finished settling with the insurance company. There is just no way we could lose our home to a fire…. right?!
We sprayed water on our trees from a hydrant we had put in months before, and hose lines John had procured … just in case (thank god).
It didn’t slow down. It grew. By Sunday it had jumped the lines and was headed toward us. Our house is our masterpiece… we have made every piece of furniture in it, all the art… and the house itself. This can’t be real.
At noon the Sheriff knocked on the door and said we had to evacuate…. thank you, no thank you. We’ll stay.
This beast was coming, and there was no stopping it. It looked like it was going to go around us and head east with the winds. But then it caught an ill wind and was headed straight for us.
There were Hot Shots at the bottom of our hill trying to keep it from coming up our hill and into our subdivision. John was at the top, using sprinklers supplied by our insurance company fed by water out of an inflatable swimming pool, to douse our trees. He had two hose lines attached to the fire hydrant to squirt water on the trees and on our neighbors to create a microclimate so the fire would divert.
It was here. It was the scariest thing I’ve ever seen, and I have never been so sick to my stomach. It was awful. We were in the middle of it with fire, glow, and smoke all around us. Flames licking up the trees, moving so fast in these ferocious winds. It was coming at us from two different directions… from the bottom of our hill and flanking us from across the East side. John was stomping out flames with his boots in our neighbors yard. The HotShots came to help and dug a line to keep the fire from crossing over from the East, while they were still working the bottom of our hill.
By 4am it had caught new fuel and was making the movement again toward us. John was out of water. He didn’t think he could hold the line. Thankfully, our fire dept sent 500 gallons to refill our pool so we could activate the sprinklers again.
We were lucky. We were spared.
In our subdivision of 60 built homes, we lost 4 homes. The next subdivision up, lost about 30 homes. It’s still an active fire, 0% contained, and at 11,000 acres as I type. There is an awful chance that it could move into the next subdivision, but we are hoping not. They are working it hard to control this unpredictable beast.
I cannot express my gratitude and joy over being spared. Tears well up as I even think about the prospect.
John worked hard and we were able to save our home. Firefighters across the country rallied around in droves as Coconino County was declared a state of emergency to help us save our homes. Our own Blue Ridge Fire Department were putting out imminent fires and saving homes right and left. Some areas are more devastated than others. It was the worst thing I have ever been through.. but thank god we lived to tell about it – no injuries reported at all – and we have homes to go home to. Unfotunately. some weren’t so lucky. My hearts goes out to them. It is so awful fine people lost their beautiful homes.
For now, we are still here, our subdivision is largely intact. We are ecstatic. The roads on 87 are still closed NB and SB, and all the subdivisions have sheriff’s posted at the entrance to them. If we were to leave, we wouldn’t be allowed back in. Having said that, John went to work (the Firehouse) to see what he could do, now that we are safe.
We have no power, but have a generator (thank goodness, as it operated the pumps for the water sprinklers). It’s a smallish generator (we are lucky to have it, thanks to a neighbor), so we have no heat, hot water or appliances. But we’re grateful to be here and in our home.
Spot fires continue, but we have a good vantage point, and John is watching them.
The fire crews have moved on to try to stop the growth, so John just went out to check on a spot fire across the way. i think I’ll keep him!!!!
Ironically, for being a wannabe photographer, all these pics were taken with my cell phone. I packed my camera gear, just in case.. and never even thought to dig it out and take a real photo. We were a little busy.
To the (potential alleged) firebug who started this… may you burn in hell.
If you may have read my last post here , you saw that we had a traumatic event when we lost the truck & camper we had spent the last 18 months custom building. That event was 5 weeks ago this week. The pain and drama of it all has worn off, and we are moving on.
Today… a fellow fire fighter sent us photos that someone going the opposite direction on the double divided highway had taken of John fighting his own truck fire. It’s not often you get to see yourself in action at a major event in your life.
All I have to say is… it’s a small world, that these photos found their way to us. What are the odds. It has brought it all back for us… though we are still in the middle of cleaning up the aftermath, but the emotions of the moment are brought back to the forefront.
BTW… the guy with the fire extinguisher in his hand (on the left) trying to put out the flames before the fire department arrived is John (my husband… and hero). The guy standing behind the truck is a guy who was on his way to fire school… where John was headed… who was kind enough to loan him his fire extinguisher.
There has been a myriad of details that have come to light just in the stories that John recalls from the frenzy of events of that day. The one that sticks the most in my mind is the fact that he estimates he had 2 minutes to get out of the truck. He had tried to get back into the truck after trying to put out the engine fire to claim other goods. In the midst of the engine fire, the doors of the truck had automatically locked. Had John been inside he wouldn’t have been able to get out. As it was he escaped with nothing more than the clothes on his back. The Blue Ridge Fire Department t-shirt he is wearing, is the only one he has left, as all the others he had were destroyed in the fire… along with everything else in our 20 year old truck, less than year old utility bed and camper top… all GONE and destroyed in the fire.
Sooooo…. there is a moral to this story.
We have purchased rescue tools for all our friends.
John has one tie wrapped to the hold bar on my Jeep. Everyone should have one. It may save your life one day. Get one today. They are cheap. It’s like a center punch… one little click and it shatters the window and allows one to get out. Never know when you might need one.
It’s hard for me to imagine that this was our first trip to the rim this year. It’s June already, and we just haven’t found time. Life sometimes just gets away from one.
Unfortunately another deterrent has been that much of ‘our’ rim has been closed due to a local fire…. WAY TOO CLOSE to home. Only 20 miles away, this one was a scary one. It was more the area that made it difficult for firefighters. The rim is very steep with a lot of dead and down, fallen pine needles and thick dry forest due to years of Forest Service policy of no-burning. This particular steep area can’t be reached by fire fighters, so all they could do was hold it back and try to avert it from cresting over the ridge.
The good news of it is, that it had top priority in the Southwest, which meant that it got all the resources they needed. Local control was handed over to the Feds, as they brought over 1200 firefighters, helicopters, and planes to douse it out and work the fire lines. The comforting fact was that they were clearly working it hard… we had regular meetings held locally by the Forest Service to give us status reports and answer any questions we had. It is now, thankfully, completely under control… and smoke is dissipating.
So we thought we’d make a trip to the rim – at least the outskirts of the area that isn’t closed – to see if we could get some pix.
The animals were out if force, seemingly enjoying the nice day just as we were.
We couldn’t actually get close enough to the fire to see any smoke, other than that on the murky horizon. But we enjoyed a very pleasant and relaxing day out – and wondered, what has taken us so long?
John just got his FireFighter Cert.. moving him from Volunteer to Reserve.
Most of the calls we get up here are rescue and medical emergency calls for which the guys are first responders and ambulance drivers to get the patient to nearby hospitals. We do get our fair share of ATV / quad accident and vehicle roll overs.
The fires we get are mostly forest fires handled by the Forest Service (with the rare assistance from our community fire department).
John’s training was pretty daunting with all the book learning, memorization, and physical training. We’re glad he’s through it and back home where we can get back to working on other things.