September 6, 2023
Several weeks ago, I received a text from a neighbor that there was a fire up the creek from us..... That fire was just about a mile from our house. At the time I found there had been four or five 911 calls and it was already being responded to. It was located at the east end of Buck Mountain in the canyons between Buck & Doe Mountains.
Firefighters were desperate to keep it out of the canyon to the south of Doe Mountain, because it would've been like a wind tunnel and gone straight to Cascadia. They succeeded in keeping it to the south and east. It eventually grew to 245 acres in some very steep terrain and rugged cliffs. They also did their best to keep it from moving west down along Wiley Creek and the north slope of Buck Mountain. At one point there was a 4 acre spot that got on the north side of the creek, but that was fairly quickly extinguished.
We live just a mile to the west and there are 2 other homes closer than we are.
First we went to level 1: Be Alert. Then it moved to Level 2: Get ready, which means pack your important belongings and be ready to go at a moment's notice! This is the 2nd time for us at level 2. The last time being in 2020 and the fire was over the ridge to the south of Buck Mountain. At that time we did evacuate, but had family members who stayed to protect our home. THIS time my stress level was RAGING as the fire was much closer. After we got packed and ready to go, thanks to our family & friends who were here immediately to help, we watched the fire from the south side of Moss Butte from the Whiskey Butte Road, which as the crow flies is about ¼ to ½ mile directly north across the canyon from the fire.
It was extremely scary yet mesmerizing to watch. All of our neighbors, the ones on Wiley Creek and those who live across Whiskey and Moss Buttes as well as Harris Road were there. EVERYONE came together and were there to support each other and to offer help to each other.
The local roads were closed to everyone except residents and emergency vehicles. They had to keep it clear for all of the heavy equipment that went up to begin building fire breaks, laying water lines and pumps in the creek, cutting roads and even replacing an old bridge, which was done within 48 hours. We could hear the equipment from our vantage point. Every day we watched as all of those vehicles came rumbling past our house.
Then there came the helicopters with buckets.... CONSTANTLY dipping from the ponds near the fire. Some had spouts that pulled the water up into their tanks and they did a PHENOMENAL job. Along with the choppers there were big scooper planes, who swooped down into Green Peter Lake and brought their loads of water, taking about 4 to 5 minutes per trip. They came in so LOW over those ridges to dump their loads it was breathtaking to see their skills. Also where the planes dropped retardant were needed. They can't pay those pilots of all these birds enough to risk their lives as they do to protect others.
There are no words to properly thank all of the fire responders, from Chad Calderwood of ODF, CTC, Giustina, numerous Hot Shot teams, and SO MANY local loggers who came to help and who are still there at the fire. This extends to firefighters/EMTs from literally all over the state.
Nick Tyler, Sweet Home Fire Chief, was on hand and he IMMEDIATELY brought my stress level down about 10 feet! He had arranged for fire teams from all over this state to come in and to be stationed near our homes and to be here to protect our homes. They literally went door to door offering support, help for whatever we needed and to let us know they were here for us. I personally saw teams from Halsey, Brownsville, Shedd, Tangent, Albany, Amity, Clackamas County, Polk County, Fall City, Grande Ronde Tribes, and so MANY, MANY more.... You all know who you are and should know we are eternally grateful to you!!
A doctor who we had never met came up and offered masks and any help we might need, also going to meet other neighbors on the mountain to see if he could be of help to them as well.... Our deepest thanks!
The Linn County Sheriff's Department was also on hand to offer support and to make sure no one got in the way. Thank you!
I know there are folks who were/are here working that I have missed or didn't see and I am grateful to all of you as well.
A huge thank you goes out to everyone who offered help...help to pack, offers of a motorhome to stay in, another offering to open their home to us, offers of transportation, not only for us but for our animals, offers of literally anything we could possibly need.... You all know who you are and we are thankful for your kindness. At times my phone was blowing up with messages and calls of support from so many folks who care.