Labor Day, Sept 7th 2020 we were forecast with a very rare and unusual storm system that brought strong winds from the Northeast. This is typical of winter storms in our area, but never early autumn. As a preface to this storm, we had been without significant rainfall since July. Grass was brown, many trees dried out, etc. A recipe for potential disaster. I took a video of the winds from the barnyard:
We started monitoring our Rural South Molalla Neighborhood facebook group for updates on what was going on around us. Suddenly a fire began only 3 miles to our South and became known as the Wilhoit/Bird Rd fire. Other fires seemed to explode around us. We heard reports of the Beachie Creek fire coming across the mountains toward us from the Santiam area and the Riverside fire near Mt Hood came to life and headed westward too (traveled 17 miles in one day during the winds in fact!). We are the black dot below Molalla in the right photo:
We finally were notified we were in Level 3 GO NOW evacuation early Tuesday. We spent the day packing and readying as much as we could until the police showed up that evening telling us to GO. We left at 8pm on Sept 8th and headed south to the Lebanon area with our belongings, 2 house cats, and our dog. We left behind the barn cats and all the livestock and prayed we would be spared. Again the black dot is us.
We managed to come back every other day to check the animals and see how things were going. This video is the road toward home on Thursday, Sept 10th:
This is what greeted us when we came back on Thursday, Sept 10:
Air quality was atrocious as you can see and stayed that way for several days. We were able to come home on Wednesday, Sept 16th when they downgraded us to Level 2 Get Ready. Air quality was unhealthy but marginally better. We were downgraded to Level 1 a few days later and are now totally in the clear and not in any evacuation zone.
This is something we hope to never go through again and want to thank all the people who helped fight the fires and keep our homes safe. Our hearts go out to everyone who lost homes to these fires and who are still unable to go home due to Level 3 evacuations near the fires.
I’m no longer going to ask if 2020 can get any worse. Obviously it just keeps saying “Hold my beer!”
Here is an article written about the fires and our community stepping up. It’s well written and worth the long read!
THE BATTLE OF HIGH HILL