Tuesday, November 2, 2010


When I was a kid returning home from a family summer vacation, I was always shocked as we rounded the curve of our street that our house was still standing there. A fire hadn't burned it down. I don't know why I felt it was miraculous that my room was still where it should be, and my things (although not put away) were where they should be.

This September, the day after we arrived in Florida for a Quigley family reunion vacation, Eric received this picture on his phone from his friend Tim who was taking care of our animals:

He asked if we wanted him to grab anything out of our house for us. We laughed. Then a couple minutes later, I started to panic. There really was a fire in Herriman and we were hundreds of miles away. We stayed up most of the night watching the progression of the fire as it made its way over the mountain near my house online and talking to our neighbors on Facebook. More neighborhoods and streets were evacuated each time. It was coming closer and closer. Most of the people on our street evacuated, although it wasn't a mandatory evacuation like most of the other streets nearby.

I began to think how relieved I was we weren't there (so we didn't have to try to find a place to stay or breathe in that smokey air), all the while feeling helpless that I couldn't save the things I most wanted to keep from burning. This put a lot of things in perspective for me. The things I most wanted safe were photos of Miranda that I could never, ever get back. And our musical instruments--especially Bianca's cheap viola from China that she's completely attached to and her much more expensive cello. Our pets of course. I told Eric to ask Tim if he wouldn't mind grabbing my books for me (all 500-700 hundred of them, I'm not even sure how many there are). Of course the books are replaceable. And I wouldn't even mind rebuilding our house. In fact, in a way, I thought that'd be kind of fun.

I couldn't sleep most of the night. Around 2 a.m., I saw an update on ksl.com that said fifteen houses in Herriman had already burned and the fire was still going strong. The next morning, the news said it was only three had burned. A miracle really.

And when I saw photos of the mountain all black and so, so close to houses, I agree that it was a miracle that more houses hadn't burned. I'm sure a lot of prayers had been issued forth that night. I know my own were mingled in amongst the others. The wind had turned and headed the other direction, which if you know Herriman, you know that's really rare.

The next morning, we got up and watched the news online some more, then got ready and headed to Disneyworld. It was strange to be hundreds of miles away in a place where we were supposed to be having fun, all the while thinking of my home by the minute and wondering if everything would be as it should when I returned. In some ways, I kind of wished I could have been out in the yard with the neighbors watching the fire creep over the mountain and be nearby to grab those things that were most important to me. But then again, I had what was most important to me within my grasp.

As we pulled up to our house a week later, there it was, as it should be. Upon entering, I was relieved to see everything in its place. The air smelled a little smokey; there was some ash in crevices on the front porch and the garage. But I was home and this time, it really was a miracle that it was still standing there.


Cami said...

A lovely full-circle post.
I hope you were able to enjoy Disneyworld anyway.
That photo of the black mountain is completely startling.

Christie Gardiner said...

Glad you documented this.

Crystal said...

WHOA that picture of the mountain all black right up to the houses is amazing.