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Tag Archives: Rising Eagle fire

We are in the clean up process of recovering from the fire. We know that our landscape will continue to reflect the fire’s effects for as long as we live here. Many of our beloved ponderosa pines will not live. Some will. Most of the shrubs are gone. A few will sprout back and seeds spread far and wide by birds and other animals will sprout in the spring. Grasses will return too. We have an opportunity to watch these changes and document them. It will be exciting as we see each new green thing poke through the ash. So far I am mostly seeing invasive grass and knapweed but yesterday I found a wild rose coming up on the edge of the road.

I am going to make photos from three photo points that I have selected for as long as I feel like the changes are occurring. I did this at my neighbor’s place starting two years ago and it was fascinating to compare the images taken just months after the fire. Here, I have selected a point at the bottom of our draw looking up at several boulders that we didn’t even know were out there; the brush was so thick they were completely obscured. A second photo point looks down a hill that was once covered with bitterbrush and at the bottom is our neighbor’s garage which burned in the fire. It will be fun to see the ruins disappear and the new garage emerge. The third point looks down on the bench of land in front of our house and across the valley bottom too. That bench of land had some of our biggest weed problems and we hope to work hard on a restoration project across that flat to bring back the natives and once again enjoy watching the deer as they make their way across there in the evening.

I started out with wooden stakes but they were too short plus a certain labrador retriever was very interested in them. Yesterday I replaced those with rebar.

Photo point 1

 

Photo point 2

 

Photo point 3

We were trying to find a new sense of normalcy after the big fires began to lay down within their containment lines. Last Friday MA  and I picked apricots and went to lunch and played with our dogs. I returned home to get back to work processing wedding photos.

Fifteen minutes later a neighbor was here telling me we have to evacuate.  There was a fire on the next road. I could see the thick black smoke column roaring in our direction. I threw a few things in the truck and loaded the dogs. The sheriff sped into our driveway and told me to go! Now! A woman was with him and I asked her to drive my car down to the highway.

There we sat and watched as our hillside turned into an inferno and fire trucks raced up the hill. The temperature was already 100 degrees. My phone buzzed with calls and messages. Where was I? People could see it from across the valley. A dozen helicopters were in the air. We had glimpses of them through the smoke. A friend who could see it called to say it didn’t look good for our house but the helicopters were still dumping water there. Emergency workers told everyone to leave that area and go somewhere safer. There were lots of vehicles clogging the road with people taking pictures and staring.

In Winthrop I was finally able to call Ken and tell him we might have lost our house. The dogs stayed pretty calm despite the heat and chaos. I got them in the river to cool off. Our friend across the valley called to say the smoke cleared and our house was still standing! Oh my gosh. I could hardly believe it.

We stayed with those friends that night. Another couple was there whose home burned in the big fire. We watched as fire fighters on the ground and in the air continued to work the fire and a DC 10 poured a long line of retardant across the top of it to prevent it moving to the west. We also saw homes of our neighbors burn to the ground.
Saturday morning the fire was calm and we returned to our home – an island in a sea of burned landscape.

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