Sometimes, You Get Burned: A Personal Account of The Whitney Fire

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Kristin Devine

Kristin is a geek, a libertarian, and a domestic goddess. She lives in a wildlife refuge in rural Washington state with too many children and way too many animals and works with women around the world as a fertility counselor. There's also a blog which most people would very much disapprove of https://atomicfeminist.com/

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28 Responses

  1. Avatar Rufus F.
    Ignored
    says:

    Yay!! Can’t think of much else to say besides that. But that is definitely a happy ending.Report

  2. fillyjonk fillyjonk
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    says:

    Holy cow. I cried in the middle of this, even though I knew (from your Twitter posts) that things had turned out OK. Wildfires are terrifying and are one thing that stays my hand from saying “fish living in town” and buying a plot of land out in the boonies somewhere – I also live in a fire-prone ecosystem, and it would be just me with no help.

    Also, the lead up – the missed communications, the downed lines, the “y’all are on your own” part of it feels horrifyingly metaphorical for a lot of things in 2020 (or maybe I am too prone to see symbolism in things). Would that we walk out of 2020, still alive, most of the stuff we need still intact, and able to keep going. (But I have deep doubts many days).

    I’m glad you’re okay! I kept watching Twitter that day and evening hoping for an “it’s all over and we’re okay” message.Report

    • Avatar Kristin Devine
      Ignored
      says:

      A lot of people, I’m sure, say “what did you expect living in the middle of nowhere” but the truth is, there’s vast swaths of the country hit by national disasters, so I actually am not secondguessing that at all. It might be different if i didn’t have my minion to do my bidding, LOL, but it is kinda nice to sit here not having to worry about unrest/corona quite so much.

      Thank you so much!!! I’m glad to be able to give the report! 🙂Report

  3. Avatar greginak
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    says:

    Wow. Thanks for writing all that up. Stunning pix. What an epic.Report

  4. Avatar Tod Kelly
    Ignored
    says:

    Wow. How terrifying; I’m very glad you all made it.

    This is an amazing story, wonderfully told.Report

  5. Avatar Fish
    Ignored
    says:

    Kristin…wow! That was terrifying to read, and I’m so glad you all got a happy ending. Your husband definitely earned that beer.

    We live in the Black Forest area outside of Colorado Springs and our house is completely indefensible, as are many of the homes here. In 2013 when the “most destructive fire in Colorado history” broke out just a few miles from us, I remember standing in the driveway with my wife considering the massive plume to the north of us. We were under voluntary evacuation orders so we hadn’t left yet…and then the wind shifted and within moments the plume was directly overhead. We packed and left right then (one of the things we learned that day is how few ways out of the Forest there are…).

    The fire never got closer than a mile to our house thanks to shifting winds. Our neighborhood never received mandatory evacuation orders. I can only hope that my family would have handled it as well as yours did.Report

  6. Avatar DensityDuck
    Ignored
    says:

    Thank you for sharing this story with us!Report

  7. Avatar Anne
    Ignored
    says:

    So happy you and your family are ok. What a terrifying experience.Report

  8. Avatar George Turner
    Ignored
    says:

    Great story and I’m glad you came through relatively unscathed. 🙂

    I’m told that more people die in grass fires than forest fires because they move much faster.Report

    • Avatar Carl Schwent
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      says:

      One of the worst fires in Oregon was in the wheat fields east of the Cascades. And the Yarnell Hill Fire, that killed 19 firefighters in Arizona, was in chaparral/desert scrub. And some people say that we just need to rake the forest floors better.Report

      • Avatar Kristin Devine
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        says:

        Oh yes absolutely – I would not have wanted to ride it out in the middle of it without firebreaks in every direction, that’s for sure. But in terms of being in a defensible space, I’m Team Grassfire all the way.Report

  9. Avatar Ben McLachlan
    Ignored
    says:

    Sorry to hear about your trials through this. We have family in the area and took a “tour” this last weekend. Here’s a “Before” and “After” comparison of that old Schoolhouse: https://youtu.be/r-WRbS4fnF0Report

  10. Avatar Bruce
    Ignored
    says:

    God bless your family Kristin. Amazing account and wonderfully written. Your husband is indeed bad ass! All of you guys!Report

  11. Avatar Philip H
    Ignored
    says:

    You and I may spar periodically over issue of politics and intellect, but my world would be a bit off were you no longer a part of it. Your husband deserves an award, all the bacon he can eat, and coffee for eternity.

    Welcome back from Hell.Report

  12. Avatar Oscar Gordon
    Ignored
    says:

    I’m glad to read that you made it out relatively OK.

    I’m also glad you and your husband were smart about the fire danger and took some action, any action, well in advance of the fire to make the home defensible.

    Thank you for being smart and prepared.Report

    • Avatar Kristin Devine
      Ignored
      says:

      Thanks Oscar! We tried and it paid off this time thankfully, and interestingly we really got a firsthand view of what worked and what didn’t. Some of the stuff we thought was going to be effective was not so much, and then other things we hadn’t realized were working in our favor actually were! Hopefully, though, THIS was the big fire and not a trial run for a worse one. o.OReport

  13. Avatar Marchmaine
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    says:

    Fabulous account; glad the family and homestead made it through… terrifying.

    Did your husband recount a point at which he thought things were going to hold steady?Report

    • Avatar Kristin Devine
      Ignored
      says:

      He said for about the first 5-10 minutes, when the fire came in both from the east and the south, he was a little worried. Not expecting a 2 front fire, and then of course the back field caught too. He couldn’t see anything in the smoke and had no way to know where the flareups were, and the grass hay we wrongfully thought would burn more slowly because it had been watered. But it went up like it had gas on it. Because of that, he thought maybe the tractor and fire hoses/water pump would catch on fire and then leave him with nothing to fight the fire with. But the fire stopped at the fire break on the edge of the field, and never got up to where the tractor and hoses and pump were. He said he’s going to rethink the layout of the system to locate another pump in a more defensible location on the lawn rather than down by the water tank (in the field) for that very reason.)

      After that, once the smoke cleared and he could better see what was happening he knew it was all good – but I didn’t know that for quite a while after! :/Report

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