August 18th 2023 was a date that will stay in my memory. The day began normally with a trip into town for a chiropractor appointment for Pete and I. Afterwards, we did grocery shopping followed by getting other supplies at North 40 on the way home. When you live out-of-town you tend to get all of the errands done in one trip.
Pete got a new pair of slippers at North 40 taking a little while talking and it was making me nervous about making it home in time. I had a 3:30 Zoom Board Meeting for the Spokane Watercolor Society. When we got home I rushed and turned the computer on and was only about 5 minutes late. The meeting was short maybe 30 minutes.
As I was getting ready to shut down the computer, there was a pounding on our front door. It was our neighbor Travis G. from just above us on the hill. He was saying did we see the fire
Then Everything Changed
What fire? Then all of our cell phones started beeping that spooky evacuation alert. A spooky incessant sound. Looking off of the front deck with Travis there was a great big cloud of smoke going high into the sky. Travis saw 200 ft high flames from his house. The smoke was going away from us, when suddenly, the wind changed and it started to come striaght at us.
Another neighbor, Brian C. came up our driveway saying the same thing and asking if we had notified everyone. He had let his next door neighbor know, and she had already evacuated. He said he would make sure the Eastmans knew on his way back.
I went inside and notified all of the people in our neighborhood watch group via email, and we all started making calls to whoever we already had on our phones. Just then, I noticed a folder of pictures on my desktop that I had taken for the insurance company after our last wildfire scare a few years prior. It was 150 pictures and I opened Google Drive and started an “upload” saying a little prayer, it could send it in time.
I found backpacks and bags and begin dumping medicines, medical gear, and bathroom drawers, just dumping them in. Packed a weekend backpack with clothes like I was going on a weekend trip. And Pete grabbed his suitcases and put clothes and stuff in them.
Pete grabbed the box of our important papers, then started carrying loads of guns and ammo upstairs into the back of the truck. Everytime I made a trip into the car, I watched for small electronic devicesthat could fit in and charger plugs and anything else along the way. I got Max’s dogfood bag, his brushes and his leash but forgot his dish. I grabbed the cooler off of the deck and pulled the soups out of the pantry that were ready to eat thinking, I did not do all that work for nothing. Someone was going to be hungry. The car was getting full fast. Then, the electricity went out.
My next load from inside was going to be computers, keepsakes, and treasures. I paused for a second to look at the pictures, Grandpa’s clock, and the piano OMG! Then, a pound on the door revealed the sheriff returning yelling, EVACUATE NOW! We followed him out and as I was heading to the car I noticed the chainsaw and gas weedeater with a blade hanging on the back of our Kubota tractor. I stepped over there and started unwiring them. Pete came and helped me, grabbing them and putting them in the back of the truck. We gotta go!
We followed the sheriff out with all our neighbors behind, Guy was driving his tractor and as we turned the corner where the mailboxes were, the flames were crossing the road around us. Just a little too close for comfort. We all just kept going through a thick curtain of smoke.
The Oregon Road Wildfire on August 18th, 2023 was a day forever impressed into our memories. Peter, myself, and Max made it out.