How many times have you sat in your living room and wondered what you would do if your house caught on fire?
February 27, 2011, I was in my kitchen washing dishes. Chance, my husband, was working on the shed he had built the weekend before. He opened the back door and told me he could smell smoke. Minutes later I could smell it too. I opened the door and smoke filled the sky. Black clouds billowed above my home and the wind tore through the neighborhood. We drove down the street to try and find the source. We made it about a mile and saw the fire across the water. I called my stepmom, Jen. She was watching from the rim of the canyon. There was a fire on the south rim. We went home and sat in the driveway. We debated gathering things and packing the cars.
As we sat there, black ashes began to fall from the sky. I told Chance we have to start packing. We ran in the house and started to grab computers and cameras. I ran to my closet and just grabbed an armful of clothes. As I was running out the front door, I could see a wall of flames across the street. Complete terror took over. I began to cry uncontrollably and became completely useless. Chance was running through our home collecting a pile. If it were not for him, would not have made it out with a single thing. He grabbed pictures and gifts and memories. I ran from room to room and I just couldn’t hold on to anything. I didn’t pickup a single thing. I had so many opportunities to take the most important possessions in my life and I didn’t. My hands hung useless in shock. I couldn’t make my brain think, it wouldn’t tell me what to do. Finally I just stood in the living room looking at all my things.
My head kept telling me we could just leave and come back and everything would still be there, my heart told me that our entire life was about to burn to the ground.
I was yelling for our dog, Bo, and Chance to get in the car. I just wanted to leave. My parents came speeding up the road. I began to cry even harder. My dad and Chance turned on all the water and started to spray the house down. The neighbors yard was on fire. The Sherriff came driving up the road with a speaker telling everyone to evacuate now.
The entire street was lined with cars. My parents’ house was full of evacuees. That’s a strange word. Evacuees. In the middle of the Texas panhandle, less than 3 miles from my home, I was an evacuee. I think of hurricanes and tidal waves, not a fire. At least I used to think that way. As we stood on the porch watching the smoke, all we could think was, “Is that smoke my house, is my house still there?” I thought the next fifteen hours of my life were the hardest hours I had ever been through. We just had to wait.