Fire in the Heart

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Tree Burning During Salmon Creek Fire

 

Brilliant yellow leaves, so saturated in sunlight that they bow–heavy with golden weight, and meadow grasses wet with the first rains, complete each other like puzzle pieces in the land around our cabin. But stories from Southern California remind me how fragile, how ephemeral this beauty is. We could have lost it all in the Canoe fire that threatened our home–our heart– in 2003.

A lightening strike started the fire and soon the lines were only about a mile and a half from our house. Then the blaze broke through. It came rolling towards us. A friend called Mom from where she was working on the burning hills. The fires had overrun her group of about a hundred fighters. They had to hunker down until it passed over. No one was hurt but they were surrounded by flames. She could see our house and warned us to be ready to leave soon. I packed my still nursing one year old into a car with his grandmother and with them went a load of photo albums, yearbooks, and tax records.

We decided to stay and fight. My husband and oldest sons gathered down at the pond, setting up a pump and a hose. We could hear the roar of the inferno across from us. As I watched the mountain pour flames towards the creek below, I answered the phones. People just up the road were calling frantically trying to determine whether they needed to leave. I couldn’t pack anymore because the calls were rolling in on top of each other. Finally, the flames (and the calls) slowed and I huddled inside away from the choking smoke. I remember sending out an email, “The computer tower will be one of the last things I pack. If the wind doesn’t pick up, we’ll make it through the night. Thinking of you all. Send good thoughts.”

So today, I’m passing on your ‘good thoughts.’ Please take a moment and open your heart to the people losing their homes.

 

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Photo by Estelle Fennel

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22 comments

  • Yes, how sad it is,,,,…..i remember the october 27th 1996….when i was called home by PGE. i was told there was a fire, i new it could not be me, i had just scraped together enough money to get in the place, and then took every thing else to modify the home so my yougest two could live with me again…..
    ren, my son and i were watching the world series, i was in a chair that came with the home and he was laying on the floor as 11 year old baseball fan would do, i remember the smile on his face , turning and looking into my eyes , saying wow dad we are really doing good now.meaning he finally had a home with me again, sami was up stairs admiring the room daddy had made for her….EVERYTHING WAS GOING GREAT!!!! the next day the house was gone, and landing silently some where in idaho i suppose. ren showed up and held my hand as we looked at the burnt skeleton that was to be our home….he looked at me in the eye again, and said i guess we are not doing to well again, huh dad. i drove him to his mothers, we did not get to live with each other again like that for another five years i believe…..
    but i am living proof that you can go on….i am not a quitter,! between neck surgery, interferon treatments, losing my job. i have some how built even a nicer home than before…and this year while ren was living with me, before he left for japan, he smiled and said, looks like were doing pretty good again dad…..and then flew off to japan…

  • Yes, how sad it is,,,,…..i remember the october 27th 1996….when i was called home by PGE. i was told there was a fire, i new it could not be me, i had just scraped together enough money to get in the place, and then took every thing else to modify the home so my yougest two could live with me again…..
    ren, my son and i were watching the world series, i was in a chair that came with the home and he was laying on the floor as 11 year old baseball fan would do, i remember the smile on his face , turning and looking into my eyes , saying wow dad we are really doing good now.meaning he finally had a home with me again, sami was up stairs admiring the room daddy had made for her….EVERYTHING WAS GOING GREAT!!!! the next day the house was gone, and landing silently some where in idaho i suppose. ren showed up and held my hand as we looked at the burnt skeleton that was to be our home….he looked at me in the eye again, and said i guess we are not doing to well again, huh dad. i drove him to his mothers, we did not get to live with each other again like that for another five years i believe…..
    but i am living proof that you can go on….i am not a quitter,! between neck surgery, interferon treatments, losing my job. i have some how built even a nicer home than before…and this year while ren was living with me, before he left for japan, he smiled and said, looks like were doing pretty good again dad…..and then flew off to japan…

  • Yes, you never get back what you lose. You can scab it over and go on and even make a pretty good new life. But the time you would have been able to spend with Sami and Ren is gone.

    The life you would have had–the path you would have gone down is gone…

  • Yes, you never get back what you lose. You can scab it over and go on and even make a pretty good new life. But the time you would have been able to spend with Sami and Ren is gone.

    The life you would have had–the path you would have gone down is gone…

  • never take anything personally, never assume anything, try not to live in the past ,cause you will project it into the future….live now, the only time i think of the home that burnt , is when i go to look for something, then remember oh yea that burnt……my life has never been this good!!!!!

  • never take anything personally, never assume anything, try not to live in the past ,cause you will project it into the future….live now, the only time i think of the home that burnt , is when i go to look for something, then remember oh yea that burnt……my life has never been this good!!!!!

  • Great piece Kym, I’m glad you shared this story-it shouldn’t be lost.

    anita marie

  • Great piece Kym, I’m glad you shared this story-it shouldn’t be lost.

    anita marie

  • Perhaps its because I’m a story teller but after something horrible happens there is a part of me that feels as if I’ve a secret treasure stash–a place to mine for interesting writing tidbits. So even when all is bleak, I get a tiny bit of pleasure.

  • Perhaps its because I’m a story teller but after something horrible happens there is a part of me that feels as if I’ve a secret treasure stash–a place to mine for interesting writing tidbits. So even when all is bleak, I get a tiny bit of pleasure.

  • Mike’s aunt lives in Fallbrook, and received a “reverse 911” call Sunday telling her to leave immediately. Since then she has been staying in a motel in San Juan Capistrano. She was told yesterday that under no circumstances could she go home right now. She was only able to take her medications, important papers, a couple of photos, and 3 extra sets of clothing. Right now she is just waiting and hoping that her gorgeous home that her husband built for her many years ago will not burn.

    Fire is so scary, and to think that some of these current fires were set deliberately.

    Thanks Kym, I always enjoy your articles.

  • Mike’s aunt lives in Fallbrook, and received a “reverse 911” call Sunday telling her to leave immediately. Since then she has been staying in a motel in San Juan Capistrano. She was told yesterday that under no circumstances could she go home right now. She was only able to take her medications, important papers, a couple of photos, and 3 extra sets of clothing. Right now she is just waiting and hoping that her gorgeous home that her husband built for her many years ago will not burn.

    Fire is so scary, and to think that some of these current fires were set deliberately.

    Thanks Kym, I always enjoy your articles.

  • Hi Kym

    I think that being a story teller is much more then being entertaining- it’s about voice and ask people who have none how important that is!

  • Hi Kym

    I think that being a story teller is much more then being entertaining- it’s about voice and ask people who have none how important that is!

  • Some of the stories coming out of the fire area are so sad. I have a hard time imaging how people will come out the other side and say, “my life is great.”

  • Some of the stories coming out of the fire area are so sad. I have a hard time imaging how people will come out the other side and say, “my life is great.”

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