Ten Year Anniversary

I have to admit August tends to be my least favorite month of the year. I am not really a summer person. Yes, I like the longer days and the warmer evenings, but I don’t do well in the heat, and let’s not even talk about humidity. And then there are the fires in August.

This August is the 10th anniversary of the Joko Lake Fire. And again this August we are surrounded by fires and have been on evacuation notice for the last two weeks. This afternoon our evacuation warning was dropped but there is still a threatening fire on the other side of town.

Ten years ago we sat on the ridge above our house and watched the Joko Lake Fire blow up. It was spectacular. If you have never witnessed a raging wild fire, the power is awful and inspiring. Trees explode and flames shoot high into the air. It creates its own winds. We received the evacuation notice to “get out now” at eleven the next morning.

This was at a time when we were still running sled dogs, so we had quite a few dogs to evacuate with us. We loaded the dogs in the dog truck along with their supplies. Loaded a few items for ourselves and off we went. By the time we were in town to pull a few items from our business we were told our house was gone.

The weather was fueling the fire and it was on a rampage. It was crowning through the trees and moving quickly towards town. Everyone on the west side of the town was being evacuated. Luckily the weather changed and the town was spared.

You quickly realize what is truly important when faced with a disaster. The two-legged and four-legged were out and safe and that was really all that mattered. We had the critical items with us. Everything else is really just stuff.

During the time we were evacuated, we were again told our house was gone as everything that wasn’t lost during the initial fire had been taken out by the ground fire that had followed. So in your head you come to terms with everything being gone. And if you are like me you start making plans.

In the end we did not lose our house. I had mixed emotions. Relived we didn’t lose everything, and a bit bummed I wouldn’t get to put all my new plans into action.

We came back to find we didn’t even lose power at our house during the fire. Everything around the house was burned, but the house and the dog yard were completely intact without a scorch mark.

Hiking through the black devastation that surrounded our home we would come upon pockets of green the fire hadn’t touched. Like life, fire is unpredictable. You can plan, create defensible space and do your best. You can up your odds of success. But you never really know until you are in the thick of things how it is all going to turn out.