Friday, July 13, 2012

Biscuit fire 10 years later....

Yesterday was the 10 year anniversary of the start of the lightening caused Biscuit Fire here in SW Oregon. We lived through that massive 500,000+ acre fire that wasn't declared entirely out until sometime in December of that year.

We were on 30 minute evacuation alert for a week when they were worried about it coming over the ridge into our valley endangering 17,000 people and during that time there was only one way out as the road heading south into CA was closed due to a fire. We had our vehicles loaded pointing out the driveway. and ended up moving out for around 5 days since Sam had to head out of the valley for work and didn't want me staying out there in case there was an evacuation, although I would sneak home during the day to check on things. We parked our 5th wheel at a friend's place and stayed in it there and then left it for a while after we moved back home so we'd have a place to live if the worst happened. Relatives had their house red-tagged which means if the fire approached the firefighters would not try to save it because of the terrain and danger to lives to try and fight it.

It was a scary time driving with headlights on in the middle of the day, listening to updates on the radio all day long, tears streaming down my face as I drove seeing the flames & smoke thinking about what would happen to the valley if the fire did come over the ridge. We would have eventually been just fine but there's a large number out there that are very poor and do not have insurance, it would have been devastating in so many ways. What has happened in CO and other areas this summer is so sad, I can't imagine what those communites are going through - we were lucky the fire didn't come over the ridge.

There is still controversary over how this fire was handled, resources were stretched thin because of fires elsewhere, help from CA turned down in the beginning, it was/is the feeling that this fire was pretty much ignored in the beginning because of it's location - the Illinois Valley area. We could see the flames and smoke but not a firefighter or helicopter in sight until it really got going. One good thing came out of it, when a fire starts here in SW Oregon now it is jumped on exremely fast with large numbers of resources.

After living through that I proclaimed that if we ever moved I wanted to live in a cement house with a metal roof out in the middle of acres and acres of irrigated pasture. Well, we moved the next year, just over the hill from that valley and what did we buy but a house in an extreme fire danger area, up on a hill with draws on either side of the house and only one escape route, a fire can move up a hill at 40 mph. So, I live each summer holding my breath hoping for no fires, I wake up during the night thinking I smell smoke, I survey the horizon for smoke plumes several times during the day.....hmm, living on the coast looks more and more inviting all the time.....


  1. Oh Cindie, it was an awful fearsome blaze. You're right, it didn't end until the snows in December. Worth noting that the reclamation of the area has brought about controversy also.

  2. Yes, you're right Theresa....the controversy goes on with the reclamation of the trees left behind.....

  3. I don't have near the fire risk you do but I have the same degree of fear when I smell smoke. I envy your scenery but not your risk.


I love your comments - thank you!