It all started with the electricity going out on Wednesday afternoon. I thought maybe it was because they found out I had been watering the plants all day. Then I was just irritated that I had to eat my dinner cold. THEN a neighbor came to tell me that there was a fire headed straight toward our road! (An alarmist, and I did find out right away that that was an exaggeration.)

By the next morning, I knew where the fire was, and I knew I would not have electricity for the day, but I truly thought that it was far enough away from where I live that it would only be an inconvenience for me. I headed to town, to get coffee and to re-charge my cell phone. After spending some leisurely time at Starbuck’s, I headed to the gym. I planned to spend more time than usual there, because I knew there wouldn’t be any electricity at home. As I swam, I did watch the smoke cloud, and I did wonder if perhaps it was getting bigger… I stopped at the store, just to get water and some ice, and then planned to get a burger on the way home. I noticed a bit of frenzied activity in the store, and I asked “have you heard anything about Hwy 88?” “yes, its closed!!” the clerk said excitedly. Honestly, that was the most nervous I was in this whole ordeal. I headed up 88, and it seemed normal for a while. Then I noticed cop cars blocking the entrance to all the major roads to the right of 88. And then I hit this scene:


In all my years of living up here, I have never seen cars backed up like this. It was like this for the last five or so miles into Pine Grove. The whole time I worried that I would not be allowed to go home to get my dogs.

Once home, indecision set in. What should I do? Where should I go? Also, I did not really have internet access, so I didn’t know for sure what was going on. There was really no one to tell me what to do. Noah’s regular trainer lived on the side of 88 that had already been blocked off, so I knew I could not take him there. I pretty much knew there was no place in the world I could take Noah, due to his “issues.” (Noah: “what? I bark a bit. No biggie.”) Finally I called my BF in Oregon, who is the voice of reason. She said, “call the vet, and see if they can take him.” I pretty much knew they couldn’t, but I did call, and they directed me to several boarding kennels. I called the first one, and timidly said, “well, he barks a lot.” The guy just sort of laughed and said, “we’re a boarding kennel, we’re used to that.” Oh, and the other bit of advice my BF said was to take the dog’s beds with me. That was a bit of genius!

I really didn’t pack a lot of stuff. None of my quilts. No paperwork, which might have been a good idea?, and just enough clothes for 3 days. Oh, and did I say it was scorching hot that day? I got all the dogs in the car, and we set off on our “adventure,” not quite having a whole plan.

After I dropped Noah off (which was in a place farther from the fire, and probably only 1500 foot elevation,) I saw this:  That is not a cloud. I thought maybe it was some kind of chemical intervention. Or maybe just part of the fire. Anyway, that’s really the only interesting picture I took of the fire.


THEN, I had to figure out what to do for me and the girls (Sophie and Bess.) I headed back to Jackson, which was closer to home and the fires (but still safe) and stopped at the main hotel. They were working off of a waiting list… Okay, I’m not waiting in this heat in a car with a pug that can hardly breath in the best of conditions… I thought hard, and finally remembered the name of a hotel that I had stayed in in Folsom (about 30 miles, 45 minutes away.) Called them, and they did not accept dogs, but the desk clerk kindly informed me that the Staybridge Suites were accepting dogs. I called them, and not only did they accept dogs, but they were giving a discount rate to people who were being evacuated!! (oh, and side note: in the middle of me trying to tell her that they were good little dogs, etc., they got into one of their rare, but very dramatic fights, in the front seat of my car, while I’m trying to talk on the cell phone!)

We finally got to the hotel, and checked in (I won’t even tell you what happened in the lobby, but it was extremely messy, and I was extremely embarrassed.) The girls were SO EXCITED!! What a big new house to explore. Honestly, the whole time I was there, I felt like one of those old ladies with the hyperactive little dogs that she doesn’t know how to control . Its not like that at home 🙂



They WOULD NOT settle down, until I remembered THE BED. Ahhh, it was almost like being at home.


We stayed in Folsom for two days, checking constantly to try to figure out what was going on with the fire.* I finally decided that I wanted to go home, to get a few more things, and I planned to accept an old friend’s offer of coming to her house to stay. I was getting nervous about how much this was going to cost me. I also wanted to water my plants if possible. I imagined that they were all dead and dried up from three days over 100 degrees and no water. (*here’s a link to the stats on this fire. Its astonishing how huge it is, and how fast it grew, and how many firefighters and equipment is involved.)

I had talked to MLG, who said he had heard that PGE was bringing in generators to bring power back to Pine Grove. As I drove into town, I saw this! Can you tell how huge these things are? Like freight train cars. And there were probably 8 or 10 of them in that parking lot. I was very impressed with all they were doing to try to help people.


And how happy do you think I was to see this? I hopped out of the car and took this picture right away. Can you tell that there is smoke lingering in the air? I actually thought there was smoke coming from my house as I drove up the road!


I was actually shocked at how good all the plants looked. It seemed like a miracle that they didn’t even seem like they needed that much water. Here’s a picture of how everything looks–ash flakes covering  everything.


So this morning I went to church, and what a special service it was. To see friends who I was worried about, and others who had been worried about me. To lift our voices together in praise for our God, and to hear of four families in our church who had lost their houses, while others’ houses had miraculously been saved. There was one family there, whose house had burned to the ground,  and they had all their little doggies with them (they were extremely well behaved little dogs!)

Afterwards, I went to pick up Noah. I still wasn’t sure that I would be able to stay home, but I was really worried about how expensive all this was getting. Imagine my shock when they said there was no charge! Its one thing to hear about the kindness of strangers, but quite another when you are the recipient of that kindness.

And now tonight, with the latest news that they have opened up all those roads that were closed on the right side of 88, I do feel a little bit safer, and like I might not have to leave my house again. I am left with a very uncertain feeling. It very much reminded me of what I wrote a couple of years ago. Back then I was just observing other people’s uncertainty. Now I am experiencing it. My hope remains the same.


“Hope in Uncertain Times”

20 thoughts on “Fire!

  1. Debby, I am so glad you, the dogs, and your cute little house are safe! How scary for you, it was scary for me just reading it. How wonderful the kennel didn’t charge. Good reminder for us all to have a plan in place that includes pet beds. I have a friend that lives on Clear Lake that I am worrying about, but so far she’s on the opposite side from the fires.

  2. I’m glad it worked out for you and your dogs. We had to evacuate eight years ago with two cats and one dog and were gone about the same number of days. Our house was fine but 2 miles away over 350 burned down. It’s very scary!

  3. Debby,
    So glad you are okay. So many fires this year. Your story and pictures took my breath away.
    Sending prayers to you and those affected by the fire. Take good care.

  4. So, so, so happy you and the goggies are okay and all is well at DebbyManor!! You can always come to Oklahoma and I’ll let you and the dogs stay for free (well, I might ask you to make some yogurt…but that would be the only fee.) 🙂 ((((((hugs))))))

  5. I am glad you are back safe and sound. And so smart of that person to tell you to take the bed. It’s amazing what a familiar can do to soothe animals.

    Hopefully the fires will get under control and all the firefighters and emergency personnel stay safe!

  6. I have been thinking about you NON STOP hoping and praying that you and the doggies and your sweet little home are OK. Every time they talk about the fire getting bigger, I just said another prayer. I’m glad you are home, I hope you feel safe and I pray that the fire is soon extinguished!

  7. Even with having been in touch with you all weekend and knowing you are OK, reading this gave me the chills. Fire is so uncertain, and so scary! I’m glad your BFF gave you such good, calming advice – taking their bed was genius. Of course, their craziness in the hotel room made me laugh – be it kids or dogs, they all go a little wild in a hotel.

    Fingers crossed the firefighters continue to get the fire under control.

  8. So thankful to God that you, your beloved pets and your home have been spared. Every time the news comes on with a “fires in California” update, I get heart sick thinking not just of all the people affected, but of the animals and vegetation being destroyed. It is just hard to fathom the enormity of it all. We all need to pray for relief in California.

  9. Debbie, I am so glad you are safe and all is well with your lovely home! We have been exactly where you have been these past few days. We lived in Lake Arrowhead during the 2003 wildfires. It was interesting watching the news and going back and forth-our home is gone/our home is safe. God is good and even if everything looks wrong and doesn’t go the way we hope, He is still so faithful and loving. I love your quilts that proclaim His faithfulness! Much prayer for your safety. My hubby is a fire captain for LA County fire and I know they have sent many resources your way!

    • Be sure to tell your husband how very grateful the people of Amador county are! I see signs and postings, but I always wonder if the firemen see them because they are so busy. The number of fire trucks I see on the road is unbelievable!

  10. The fires in California were even on the news here but it never came to my mind that you would be effected by it. Thank goodness you and your sweet doggies and your home are safe.

    And it is really kind of them not to charge costs for Noah, that’s humanity: don’t try to make a profit when someone is in trouble.

  11. so glad you are ok as well. Ive been reading and thinking about and praying over the fires since the began. I cannot believe many have been raging since JULY!

  12. So glad you and your pets and house are OK. We have seen this on the news I had no idea you were affected. Again so glad you guys are OK.

  13. I’d said a prayer for you and your doggies and garden. Glad you are al safe. I did not read blogs much for the last several months and when you were talking about your Doggie ‘great escape’, I realized Mr. Monk was not there . I read back to see what happened. I’m so sorry. Such a little man and I know you loved each other.

  14. Oh, Debby, I just recently found your blog(s). What a story I just read! I looked around for an email so I could ask you if you mind if I use your idea of the “Signature of Jesus” quilt. Not exactly, of course, but make a similar one for a friend who has pancreatic cancer. I didn’t realize what you have been going through! Praying for you and your dogs, and your community/State, etc.!

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