With fires raging all over California, living in a forest is a bit scary. When a blaze started only a couple of miles away from our house two days ago, it was way too close for comfort for Tommy and me. We have owned our Shingletown, California property for over seven years but only recently moved into our finished home on it. We have friends who have lived here for more than ten years, and they have been evacuated due to fire only once. That contributed to my sense of optimism about living in a wooded area and remaining safe from fires: that, and daily prayer.
Our friends, the Frisbee’s, are part of a fire watch team and are notified immediately about any local threats. When Dave called us on Tuesday afternoon, we assumed it was just to chat. Instead, he informed Tommy that there was a car fire on Shingletown Ridge Road and that five acres had already burned because of it. Our home is on Shingletown Ridge Road, so this was a bit disconcerting. I was working on my computer when Tommy jumped into the ATV to take a drive and see how far away the fire was and how bad it looked. If I’m honest, I wasn’t in a panic at all. I was typing away on my computer when Tommy came blowing through the door and said, “Pack a bag! We’re leaving!”
My calm demeanor went right out the window with that statement. My natural instinct was to ask my husband what he meant, which was a stupid question in retrospect. He’d gone down our road far enough to see lots of firetrucks when he stopped to talk to a man in a truck headed the other way. The man told him that the blaze was enormous. Tommy turned around and headed home. While Tommy was battening down the hatches outside, I wandered around the house in a bit of a stupor. Since the Frisbee’s hadn’t said that we should evacuate, I wondered if Tommy was overreacting.
I had thrown a couple of changes of clothes and some toiletries into a bag when Dave called again and told me that the fire had jumped to a hundred acres. Now I was in full-on freakout mode, chastising myself for not having a plan in place for this very occasion. I was frantically running around the house, trying to decide what to throw into my car when Dave called again and said that someone had shared information about the wrong fire. Our fire was at 15 acres, and they seemed to be getting a handle on it. Linda Frisbee called back shortly afterward and told me that an evacuation had been ordered and that we should come to their house, which is further up Highway 44. She said I could put our cat, Paddy, in her office and hang out with them until it was okay to return home.
Of all of the times to have the motorhome in for repairs and warranty work, this was very inconvenient. Paddy is very comfortable in the RV, and packing him and necessities up in the motorhome would have been much easier and less stressful. I threw our laptops and other items that I thought were important into the back of my car, and Tommy put some of his guns in his truck. He got Paddy into his carrier, which is something that he always leaves for me to do. This was serious!
I’m sure our poor cat was feeling our tension. Paddy screamed at the top of his lungs all the way to the Frisbee’s house. This made an already difficult situation even more distressing. Once I was situated in Linda’s office with Paddy and a much-needed cocktail, I started to calm down a little. Apparently, my emotions hadn’t told my face. Linda kept asking me if I was okay and assuring me that the first time something like this happens is the scariest. Damn skippy, it is.
Paddy calmed down and was busy checking out the new surroundings and enjoying some food that Linda provided. However, I insisted that I was more worried about him than anything else. She rolled her eyes a little when she told me that he was handling the situation much better than I was. I hate to admit that she was right.
I’m thrilled to tell you that Cal Fire and the Shingletown Volunteer Fire Department were fantastic. Within an hour of arriving at the Frisbee’s, we were informed by the Shingletown Emergency Defense Radio Service that Highway 44 and been reopened, and the evacuation notice had been lifted. I declined Linda’s kind offer to stay longer. I just wanted to be in my own house with my cat. Tommy stayed a little while and visited with Dave.
This scare brought to light the fact that we had no plan in place for evacuation. I’d been reading many posts on Facebook from people who were either in harm’s way and scared or evacuated. A friend who survived the Paradise fire but lost everything had posted an excellent readiness list, sharing from her own experience. And yet, I had done nothing. I was so sure that we are protected because of prayer that I failed to use wisdom. God promises his protection, but he also advises us to use sound judgment. Being prepared in case of an emergency is the wise thing to do. I’m now working on a better plan. I’ll have to look for my friend’s list again.
We dodged a catastrophe, and I am so grateful. I’ve walked The Ridge, which I refer to as “the hill” every other day since we got settled on our property six months ago. I’d walked it the morning of the fire, and I did again today. Seeing the burnt-out area up close and personal made me even more grateful. Firefighters were hosing down the area to make sure there were no hotspots left. The car that had started the blaze was sitting where it landed, wedged up against the tree that stopped its descent. I checked it out from every angle and wondered how the heck it got into that position. A huge boulder and another tree were enveloping it. It just didn’t make any sense to me.
I continued my walk farther down the hill, and on my return, I stopped to talk to a firefighter that was inspecting the area close to the car. I told him about my confusion as to how the car got there. He said that the car died while driving up the road, and without its power brakes, the driver couldn’t stop it from sliding back down the hill. The driver made it out okay, but apparently, the car caught on fire. As of the last report, the reason that car burned is still unknown. The whole thing is a bit odd to me. I’m looking forward to hearing more about how it happened.
As you can see from the pictures, the firefighters stopped what could have easily escalated into a huge disaster. Beyond every burnt area is dry brush and trees. There is a house within 100 yards of where the car landed. I thanked the firefighter profusely before continuing my trek up the hill. I said, “God bless you and keep you safe.” He was so unassuming and humble. “Just doing our job as best we can,” he replied. I can not begin to express how grateful I am for our public servants. So many of them are being treated horribly. Our dictator, governor Newscum, had the audacity to cut our firefighters’ wages by 7.5%. Meanwhile, he failed to take the 10% payout that he promised he would. He is the highest-paid governor in the United States. And look at the mess we are in.
I don’t want to make this a political post, but if you haven’t signed the Recall Newsom Petition, you should do it as soon as possible. This man needs to go, and we need to take back the state that we were once all so proud of. I’m praying for a Red Wave in California. I hope you all get out and vote.
Copyright © 2020 Charisse Tyson