A diary of the fire from Lakeview
Last Wednesday morning I began to think about what I was going to write in this column. It is summer, I thought, so I should write something fun and frivolous. By Wednesday night I knew what I was going to write about, I just didn’t know how it would all turn out. Here is one woman’s diary of the Waterfall fire.
Wednesday 6 a.m.: I turned on Channel 2 and they were reporting a 10-acre fire in Kings Canyon. I was supposed to meet Gayle Robertson at her home. She called about 9 a.m. and canceled due to the fire.
At this point, there were reports of a 15-acre fire in Kings Canyon. I had lunch with my husband at Garibaldi’s. From that vantage, the fire seemed to be worsening. At 2 p.m., I met with Tammy Westergard at Java Joes. We came out, saw the black smoke and said, “That is someone’s house.”
My cell phone rang and my husband Tom said, “We have to evacuate Rudy and Gayle.” We headed up Kings Canyon and barely got through the barricade. We grabbed a few essentials and then we got a call that someone in Wellington Crescent needed help. When we arrived, the flames were about 30 feet from their back fence and moving fast in our direction. It was truly terrifying.
We went home to find out that our home in Lakeview was subject to a voluntary evacuation. I had no problem volunteering. In two hours, we packed everything that we could not replace; pictures, artwork, handmade quilts, our daughter’s letterman jacket and dresses from her childhood. It was amazing that the things that we really wanted only filled one pickup truck. The rest could be replaced. We listened to KPTL and to Channel 2 for evacuation information and we kept getting conflicting information. At 5 p.m, the fire officials were at our door asking why we hadn’t left yet.
We loaded our dogs, Buck and Blue, in the truck and left. During the previous two hours, several people had called offering lodging for the night. We called our first offer, Dick and Jeanne Hadlock, and said, “We are on our way.” We spent the evening watching the media outlets, listening to the police scanner and catching up with Dean Watts, a fellow evacuee, while the fire burned out of control toward the south, engulfing C Hill. To my surprise, I actually got some sleep that night.
Thursday, 8 a.m.: We returned to our house. I went to my hair appointment. I figured that if I was going to be homeless, at least I would be a homeless person with a great haircut.
11 a.m.: I am back home, the winds have come up, the smoke is thick but the fire appears to be moving away from us. I often wondered what I would do to handle the stress in a situation like this. I now know the answer. I ate.
Throwing caution and all nutritional wisdom to the wind, I ate whatever I wanted. I made BLTs with Smith and Smith Farms fresh tomatoes. They were fabulous. Then I ate a bowl of coconut ice cream from the Tahoe Creamery with a little homemade chocolate sauce. Incredible.
Just as I finished my ice cream and was thinking about my next indulgence, we got a call that Timberline and Lakeview had just gone mandatory. We looked out our back yard and could see black smoke billowing behind our subdivision. We left thinking that this was possibly the last time we would see our home.
3 p.m.: We arrived at Hadlocks’ and I immediately scarfed down fresh-baked bread Jeannie was just pulling out of the oven. With complete abandon, I spread a nice, thick coat of butter on it and enjoyed every bite.
We spent the remainder of the evening watching various media outlets and based upon the pictures that we were seeing, I was certain that all of Likeview Estates had burned. We called family and friends to reassure them that we were safe. We called out daughter, TomiJo, who is away at college and attempted to keep her informed. She wanted to make sure that we had gotten her stuffed pig, Wilbur, the family Bible given to her by her deceased grandmother, her box of high school keepsakes and a quilt made for her by her best friend Alyssa Groth Harrison. We had gotten it all.
9 p.m.: The telephone rang and a friend of ours who was helping to fight the fire said that he was in our backyard and everything was still there. We were amazed, and I remain amazed as I write this.
Friday 6 a.m.: The barricades were still up so my husband and I hiked into Lakeview to see for ourselves. We stood in front of our unscathed home and yard and held each other and we wept. As we walked out, we tried to thank the firefighters, but we were so choked up that we could hardly speak. So I now want to give all of the firefighters a proper thank you. Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!
As I write this, I can still smell the smoke in the air, I am still dusting the ash off my computer, and I am still dealing with survivor guilt, knowing that some people were not as fortunate. With all of the conflicting emotions of the past few days, I am so proud of how the citizens of Carson City responded to this emergency. I don’t care what anybody says, this is a great place to live.
Linda Johnson is a 29-year resident of Carson City, a wife, mother and a retired attorney, and she is grateful, sad, happy, amazed and proud.