I originally wrote this to post on June 23rd on Band Back Together, but after thinking about it I wanted to share it here too.
Monday, June 20th, 2011 at 5:30 pm a fire sparked on the road behind my house. One downed power line caused over 6000 acres to burn, two homes to be lost and 24 of the most terrifying hours of my life. The area is very hilly and covered by dead grass, mesquite and cedar trees and around 300 homes sprinkled in and out and around. My house sits on a hill with a valley behind and another hill on the other side.
This is what I learned from this experience:
1) Life can change in an instant. When my husband left the house to pick me up from work there was nothing wrong. 10 minutes later the fire had started and was well on it's way to out of control.
2) I have an idea of what hell looks like. In pitch black night with nothing to see for hundreds of acres but flames I got a pretty good idea. At the time my thought was somewhere along the lines of "please God make it stop". I think.
3) The #1 benefit of twitter is to be able to tell somebody how horrified you are at 3:00 in the morning when everyone around you is just as horrified as you are. My husband knew how terrified I was. Telling him wasn't going to help anything.
4) My wheelchair bound, disabled husband sat up all night and watched the fire so I could try to sleep a little. My wheelchair bound, disabled husband protected me. I've known perfectly healthy men on two legs who would not have made a stand like that.
5) Thank God my husband has never been a "darling, honey, sweetie, baby" kind of guy. When he woke me up to get me out of the house because the fire was right outside our house and all I could think about was getting shoes on "Baby, we have to go" got my attention more than anything else could have.
6) I will never look at a camp fire the same again.
7) When packing to leave, I gave no thought for my new tv or refrigerator. All I wanted was enough clothes to get us through a few days and my family. EVERYTHING else can be replaced.
8 ) When you think something is over, it isn't necessarily over. The fire had gone miles away from us and then the wind changed and turned back around and came right for us. I was sleeping soundly several hours later thinking it was over when we had to evacuate....again.
9) Never underestimate the power of a hot shower and the ability to brush your teeth.
10) It's not very often that you get Utah Forest Service guys in your front yard in Texas. I wish they didn't have to be there. I love every one of them, though.
11) I appreciate the state trooper who told us if we left to go get ice (after the fire was 100% contained and they were working on hot spots) we may not be able to get back in. I love the sheriff's deputy who later told us he knew who we were and we'd have no problem getting back in as long as the hot spots were down. I especially loved him when we returned and he asked why we didn't bring him back a beer.
12) Apparently it takes a few days to recover physically and emotionally from that kind of thing. We've been out of danger for over 48 hours and I feel like crap still. Of course, I might have breathed in a little more smoke than I should have and I've only had 3 migraines since then. Maybe I should cut myself some slack.
13) I will never, ever, ever question my granddaughter when she doesn't see her mom and gets scared. Three times the other night I went outside and saw darkness and flames and couldn't see my husband. I was screaming for him and didn't really care that I sounded like a frightened child. At age 40....I was one.
and last but not least
14) You never know who is watching. I am now on a news channel commercial....in my pajamas....and I never saw a camera.
So our fire is over. All the hot spots are probably out by now. We now have a beautiful new fire break as landscape. Life should be getting back to normal. But I have a feeling I will never be the same again.