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Sunday 22 September 2019
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Two Hours

Two Hours

 

This past weekend (starting on Aug 14th) I had an experience I’d never wish on anyone. To give a little background, I live in the good ol’ apple state. After this past week, inland Washington might as well have been a solid wall of fire.

Friday night: I was baking for the next week’s meals and testing out a new GF recipe. Supposed to be peaceful, until I saw this.

2015-08-14 19.30.51

 

911 Dispatch said they were aware and that the local fire department was on it. DNR had no one to spare since there were four other fires going on in the county. We had no idea if even the local fire fighting team was on the fire. So the community telephone vine sparked. Neighbors got word, set sprinklers around their houses, and then went off to help. Social media became a hotbed for updates since the fire was so small that the news stations didn’t make a mention on the evening news or was too slow with accurate updates. Friends were calling left and right to find out if we needed help, a place to stay, or to find out what was going on.

I had a front row seat to the event and it wasn’t looking good. The fire wasn’t being fought at all. Most reasonable thing to do was get packed. To basically put my household under what is called Level 1 Evacuation; which means, “Make your plan and be ready.” With the fires that close, the plan was load the car and get out when it looked bad.

(Note: Cover image to this post was the sight of, “NOPE! I’m getting out of here!)

Two hours later (9pm) the fire was too close for comfort and my family (mom, the dog, and I) jumped into a loaded SUV. Now here’s the question when faced with a fire: What can I not live without?/What should I take?

When faced with a lifetime of stuff plus a hundred years of family history in the form of letters, books, glassware, and jewelry what do you choose to save? More specifically, what do you save first?

You can tell my priorities off of what I packed first: cameras, tripod, charging cords, purse (which has the essentials plus a tablet), and laptops. After that I grabbed my grandmother’s jewelry box, small antiques that could fit inside zipper pouches on suitcases and bookbags, and then I shoved as much clothes as I could into a suitcase. (And my dirty clothes hamper since the fire happened the day before laundry day.) Afterward, at a friend’s house, the night was spent praying that the fire didn’t touch the house because sleep was interrupted with, “oh… I forgot that.”

Thankfully, the house still stands thus far and the fire never got too close. Hopefully it remains that way. Other fire districts have sent men and supplies our way, and the emergency phone lines are back up and running how they are supposed to. The road is still closed but it’s good to stay optimistic. No use in getting hysterical over things that can’t be controlled.

This past week showed a community rallying together in a way we never had to do before and it’s a comfort. In two hours, not everything you need is packed. So it was a comfort to see the small community work as one all while hurting for the grief of others.

So that raises a question. If you were faced with a fire a few hundred feet away from your home, what would you do? What would you take?

Or would you grab anything? Choose to get out with your life and a few essentials?

 

Pst! If you want to follow my updates on the fires (comical and a tad on the serious side) follow me on Tumblr, Twitter and Instagram. You’ll get to see what happens when a writer doesn’t have Internet and tries to distract herself.



L. Ann Ahlstrom (Dickson) is a novelist and aspiring game writer who is currently enrolled in Full Sail University’s Creative Writing for the Entertainment program. In addition to being a full time student, Ann is a writer of web series and shorts that she publishes on DeviantART and her blog http://whiteroseblackrose.wordpress.com. When she's not writing, she's plotting ways to delete "long distance" when referring to her long time relationship with a fellow writer and musician she nicknames Vampire.