Fleeing from a forest fire in a pandemic was not even a worry in my worried head. My head was full of Covid 19 changes in my life and the usual worries about my boys.
Strangely, I had posted my story about our evacuation due to forest fire in 1980. This year was the 40th anniversary of that time.
But, really, did it have to happen again?
Yes it did.
Here’s a short version of my later on longer version.
On Monday, August 10th, I was at home enjoying a few days of holidays. My brother and brother-in-law were staying with me for a few days and we had arranged to visit out mom in the Lodge that day. It was a good visit and we scheduled another one for the next day. We then went to the beach.
It was windy. Really windy. I am not a windologist but it was crazy windy. Things were blowing down the streets and trees were having a hard time. We gave up at the beach. The sand was blowing in our faces, giving us unwanted dermabrasion.
We went home and sat outside. My brother checked his facebook feed and saw a post about a fire. We looked to the west and yes, there is was, a big plume of smoke. Naturally, we were curious so we jumped in the vehicle and sped off to investigate. It wasn’t long before we realized that was dumb and turned around. The fire wasn’t that far away. That was at approximately 4:00 p.m.
We notified my sons, who were home at their apartment and then we all went to my house to watch the smoke and keep up with facebook posts. Facebook is the way our little town communicates.
The first post by the municipality stated that the fire was not a threat. We sat and watched. The second post a couple of hours later said to be on alert. What!! I packed my little suitcase and waited. Evening came. The smoke looked like it was not as bad. The helicopters were on scene and then the water bombers.
Then I was notified that the Lodge had evacuated mom and all residents to Kenora, three hours away. What?!!
Then the post from the municipality stated to evacuate that night if possible. What?!! I’m not sure what time I saw this but we all packed up in about 15 minutes and were out the door. (We had parked our vehicles on the front street). We left at about 10:03 p.m.
Everything happened so quickly. What do you pack when you leave in a hurry? What are those important things? Well, we took my Dad. He is still in my closet at home, waiting to be laid to rest, when mom leaves this world.
Out on the street, people were getting in vehicles or waiting for rides. We noticed a man with his thumb out and asked him where he was going. He had no clue where to go or what to do as he had just moved to town. We told him to get in. Off we went and joined a line of a thousand other vehicles leaving town in the dark on our one road out of town.
What a relief to be heading down the highway. We had decided we would go to my brother’s cottage six hours away; just drive all night. It didn’t work out that way. We were told to register in the next town. People were diverted into the town to register which caused a bottle neck of vehicles. What normally takes 45 minutes to get to, took three hours. Yes, we were in a line for three hours. Wondering how close the fire was. By the time we reached Ear Falls, it was 1:00 a.m. We were exhausted. We pulled into the beachfront park and slept in our vehicles. Happy to be alive.
To be continued….