Friday, June 15, 2012

Little Bear Fire: Part I

So Lauren and I decided to keep a journal of what all has happened to us over the last few weeks. It is written from both of our perspectives so it is not a comprehensive view on the whole fire or what everyone has gone through, just Lauren and I.

Friday June 8th

Lauren: I was scheduled off this morning. I went with Kaylee Bryan and her 4 boys to the park and Walmart. Thatcher was grumpy that day, so Kaylee decided to get McDonalds and take the boys home. Danielle Pape picked me up from McDonalds and we went to Beals/Burkes to shop for dresses. I bought a long striped sundress. Then we went back to the camp and I hung out at home until Korey got off of work.

Korey: I did housekeeping all day until 3:30 pm. Then I was scheduled challenge course with the group. It got switched to high ropes. You could see the smoke billowing all day. I got off work at 6 pm.

Together: We took Dugan for a short walk. We stopped to talk to Danny Watkins. Korey was supposed to take pictures of Rosemary Hezmal’s shed. After our walk, we were going to eat dinner at home. Lauren had cooked chicken and rice. Instead, the summer staff were going to Farleys for dinner, and we decided to join them. We rode with Michelle Howard and Abby Nielson. The smoke billows were huge behind Farleys, and Korey Instagrammed a picture.

After dinner, Abby left with a few other summer staff for Walmart. Michelle, Korey, and Lauren headed off to try and go to Monjeau to look at the fire. After we turned down Ski Run Road, we realized they had already closed it off. We all saw flames maybe half a mile away. Lauren was really concerned. So, we decided to go talk to Paul and Brenda Garber. There was more traffic headed South on HWY 48 than any of us had ever seen before.

Paul seemed to think the fire was moving away from the camp and that we shouldn’t worry. Emily Hutchison was there and was laughing at Lauren for being so concerned. We learned that South Fork had been evacuated and that Angus Church had been set up as an evacuation center. We headed down to the church to help set up cots. Eric Walls was in charge of that evacuation center and sent us home to pack a bag. By this time, the sun had set and we could see the orange glow of the fire. It was about 10:30 pm and we were in the parking lot of Angus with several staff, including Molly Jane, Connor, Felecia, Micha, Kelsi, Steven, the Pape girls, Abby, Liz and Ranae. We all left and went back to our homes to pack.

At this point none of us were expecting the fire to come to the camp. Lauren packed 2 pairs of clothes. Korey packed 5 pairs of clothes. They also grabbed food for Dugan, his leash and bowls. Korey grabbed the CPU for his computer, his laptop, and the camera. Korey packed the firesafe in the car as well, which contained all of our important documents.

Many of the staff had radios with them, and were communicating with Paul and Stan Yocom about the progress of the fire. Korey and Lauren watched one episode of the Office while they waited. At around 11:30 pm Stan called for all staff to evacuate the campers and head to Morris Center for roll call.

Korey and Lauren were in charge of evacuating Plunkett Hall. Several of the campers at Plunkett were asleep/ disoriented as we knocked on the doors to wake them up. It was a hispanic family group, which made communicating what was happening difficult.

Once everyone was clear from Plunkett Hall, Korey and Lauren headed to Morris Center. We were split in Morris Center, the hispanic group was in the South Dining Room, the Methodist was in the East Dining Room, and the Staff, Volunteers, and surrounding community were put in the Fireplace Room. When we were sure all group members were accounted for, we released them to leave. Korey was sent by Stan to check a cabin to make sure it was evacuated. Then Stan sent him to the RV Park with a camp vehicle. That is where we left many of the camp vehicles. Korey grabbed our toothbrushes while he was out.

Once Korey was back, nearly all of the volunteers and surrounding community members had left for the First Baptist Church evacuation center in Ruidoso. The last people on the grounds were Howard Ours, Stan and Sharon Yocom, Corkey Condon, Ben and Stephanie Yocom, Korey and Lauren Fraizer, Michelle Howard, Ryan Sweitzer, and Little Patrick (other than emergency personelle).

Korey, Lauren, Ben, Stepanie, and Michelle sat on Morris Center Roof and watched the glow of the fire. Burnt pine needles and ash were falling on our heads. Around 2 am, Corkey got a call that  a spot fire had started on the other side of HWY 48 at the bottom of Angus Hill. We could see the fire from Morris Center. At this point Stan made us leave the campgrounds. We decided to head to Roswell as we had heard Roswell First Church of the Nazarene was taking evacuees and it appeared that HWY 48 to Ruidoso was closed.

Ben and Stephanie were in their yellow Escape and Korey and Lauren were in their green Saturn. We didn’t realize Howard was also following behind us. He waved at us from the 4 way stop in Roswell as he headed to his brother and sister in law’s home. When we got to Roswell First, there was no one there. We went to the closest gas station where Curtis and Jeannie Economides were also stopped. A fire Marshall stopped for gas on his way to Ruidoso and recommended we go to the Red Cross. The Red Cross was willing to help but needed to get permission from the Albuquerque branch to give us aide. Stephanie and Lauren filled out paperwork as Ben and Korey kept Dugan, Jezzy Ray, and Lilly busy in the parking lot.

The Red Cross was able to provide us with 3 nights at the Motel 6 in town as well as a 75 dollar gift card for food. We arrived at the hotel around 6 am. This was the first time we called our parents to let them know what was going on.

1 comment:

Divonna said...

WOW! Very interesting to read the moment by moment details of the day. We are still praying for everyone affected by this disaster and our hearts break for you... Love and prayers...Divonna & Randy Thornburg