As we watched, we could see the flames cresting the hilltops and wondered exactly how far away it was. As it got darker, you could see what appeared to be explosions--trees popping, we guessed. We wondered why we weren't getting a call on the county emergency system. Finally, about 7:00 pm, we decided we better pack up just in case. My sister and mother, who had arrived just that day from Texas for a little vacation, helped us throw valuables into a box trailer as we nervously watched the smoke and flames get nearer.
At 5:00 am the next morning, we got the call from the emergency system to prepare for possible evacuation. My mom and sister left with Mom's truck and my car. We had an extra vehicle due to my mother-in-law being hospitalized, so we needed an extra driver. They went to Capitan to a restaurant there while we continued to pack the trailer and gather up enough supplies to take care of us and our 5 dogs for a few days if needed. At 7:00 am, a sheriff's deputy drove up and told us it was time to leave-mandatory evacuation.
We sat by the road in Capitan under big shade trees all day. No phone service, no information, wondering if there was any way to get back into town, hearing all kinds of rumors. Finally, my husband attempted to get to town by going through Lincoln on highway 380 to highway 70 and it was open all the way to town. He could not call us, but came back and got us and we all headed back to town. My sister left my car at the museum where I work and one of my coworkers mentioned that a local church, the J Bar J Country Church, was taking in people with their pets. My mom and sister then headed back to Texas--out on Friday, back on Saturday, eight hours one way. But we all thought it would be better that they not stay.
We sat up housekeeping in one corner with our cots and dog crates and waited for news. The shelter 'Mom', Waynette, took good care of everyone and cheered us all up as best she could.
The fire has become much more of a monster than anyone expected when it started with a lightning strike on Monday. We are now the only evacuees left at the shelter and are just biding our time, waiting for news. My husband goes to meetings every day for updates and we know many people have lost homes. So far, ours is intact, which we are grateful for, but still we wait to see when it will be safe to go home. It is now Tuesday evening, and we have been here since Saturday evening, with no real idea of when we can leave. But we have a house to go back to and many people don't, so we are really thankful for what we do have.
So far, we've had only one casualty from this fire and that was one of my parakeets, Harvey Wallbanger. I had him and the other parakeet, Fionan, in a small cage sitting on the dog crate when a gust of wind blew the cage over. They both escaped, but I managed to catch Fionan. Harvey took off into the wild blue yonder and hopefully, will be found by someone who will take good care of him. That was how I got him 5 years ago...he strolled up to my sister's door in Dallas and she caught him and brought him to me. Goodbye, Harvey.
I just received the most recent incident update via Twitter (7:00 pm Tuesday) and it says 224 residential structures and 10 outbuildings were destroyed. As far as we know, no human lives were lost.