The Burning Bush

The burning bush was in the Book of Exodus in the Bible. After our two day evacuation due to the Washoe Drive fire, the now extinguished burning bush in the back corner of our house is like a neon sign flashing “This is how close the fire was”. Like the biblical bush, it did not completely burn.

As we surveyed the landscape, we saw burned brush within inches of our propane tank. Yet, our home is still standing. We have damage to shrubs and trees, plants and part of the lawn have been eradicated, a deer statue broken in half and charred, sprinkler heads that won’t be watering our yard this year. You can clearly see the line the fire took.

Despite that, we have our lives and our home. Not all our neighbors were as fortunate. Quite a few of the 29 homes burned were in our small neighborhood. It puts things into perspective.

What should I take?

In the event of a fire, what should a person take? I’ve seen dozens of articles, lists and recommendations to have “that one bag” to whisk with you out the door. I don’t think there is an exact answer. In retrospect, there was not a lot we could have taken.

The fire started at 12:45 in the Washoe Drive area which is only a little over 3 miles south of our home. With 82 mile an hour winds blowing, it didn’t take long for the fire to reach our home. My nephew, Travis, a photographer, was doing a photo shoot in the hills in Pleasant Valley, the area in which we live. As the fire advanced, it became clear he should head for home and at least let my husband, John and his personal assistants know about the fire. We have seen a number of fires in the hills behind our house and they have never been a significant threat, even with the hurricane like winds we experience.

At 1:33, Travis called to let me know that I might need to come home to pick up John if we were evacuated. My van has the necessary lifts to transport John and the equipment he requires. Three minutes later, I got another call but this time he said, “You better get here right away.” The fire had advanced and was in our yard. Orange flames and a line of fire were behind the house and “ash and embers were falling from the sky”, Travis later recalled.

I was in Reno, 16 miles away. Many residents were trying to do the same thing I was doing. Get home. We were unable to get in. The visibility was zero in the fire zone. If someone needed help, the first responders took the address and dispatched to that location. Fortunately, paramedics were helping another person in a wheelchair in our neighborhood and managed to get John to safety. The personal assistants evacuated in their cars and Travis did the same.

What did they take with them? Travis grabbed his portable hard drives and the dog. He wasn’t able to get the cat to come along. One of the personal assistants didn’t even take her bag. They were concerned for John’s safety. John didn’t even have shoes or a jacket. Had I been there, I cannot think of one thing that was important enough to worry about at that time.

In the aftermath, we have adjustors and estimators coming and going. There is smoke damage, ash and soot in the garage, the smell of smoke permeates the outside air. We’re told we need to have everything cleaned: the ceilings, the walls, our clothes, books, carpets, floors, just everything. The trees might survive, the lawn might come back and we can replace the shrubs that don’t make it. The independent cat did very well. She lived up to her name, Lucky. And the burned bush? I don’t know if I want to remove the burned bush yet. I will have to think about that.

People also view

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *