Our 4th of July this year was one for the books.
We headed up to the Veater Ranch in the morning to spend the day swimming and BBQ'ing. Plans quickly changed though when a fire started on the ranch.
Aaron went along with some of the others down to help fight the fire while I stayed up at the house with the kids along with the Browns and Jessica and her girls. We assumed the fire was far away and we were plenty safe but it all quickly changed when we were urged to quickly evacuate.
I grabbed the kids and ran out of the house. I knew Aaron had the keys with him so I hopped into Jessica's car. She was grabbing some of the house pets when I realized that I had a set of spare keys in our car that morning. So I got out of her car and ran with both Eleanor and Ford in my arms over to our car.
It was then that I realized how serious all of this was. My car was parked in front of the house and it was when I went to the front that I saw the flames right there and the thick black smoke quickly filling the air.
The sheriff was there and yelled, "You gotta go, go, GO. The flames are right HERE. No time for carseats. Throw them in and GO." I threw Eleanor in and kept holding Ford but I couldn't find the keys for the life of me. My heart was racing and I knew I didn't have more time to search.
I grabbed the kids back out, yelled to the sheriff that I couldn't find my keys and he quickly motioned us into the back of his car. I sat clutching both kids on my lap, shaking. He asked me a couple of times if all the adults were out of the house. I said yes but that Jessica was still getting her kids and animals in the car.
The sheriff backed up to her car to get her to follow him out. The air was so black that I could hardly see anything but I made out her head bobbing down the hill and I immediately knew she went to get the ranch dogs. It felt like forever before she came back but probably wasn't. She came bounding up with two dogs in hand, shoved them in her car and got in the driver's seat.
The sheriff then put his car in drive and we went to drive out of the driveway when a huge flame went up in front of the car. I was praying out loud at that point. I was clutching Eleanor and Ford to me still and was terrified at the thought of what could happen to us all up there. The sheriff paused, waited for a second and then drove through the fire. Jessica followed just behind us. You are not supposed to drive through a fire but thankfully we made it out ok.
The sheriff drove just another minute longer until we were well past the flames and then he had us get out and transfer to Jessica's car. Jessica had Winnie and Clara in her lap in the front seat and I had the two kids in my lap in the back. I kept on praying out loud and singing "I am a Child of God" to calm the girls. Clara kept saying she wanted to go save the house by fighting the fire with her flag.
At this point I pretty much knew we were out of danger but I was so worried about the house still and also Aaron and everyone else fighting the fire. We made it down the hill as firetrucks and helicopters and so many firefighters were working everywhere. We found Aaron and Steve at the bottom of the hill and I was so relieved to see Aaron. Aaron didn't know just how close it had all been up at the house and I really couldn't find words to describe it to him until late that night.
We drove over to the Veater's apartment above their barn and camped out there for the day, watching the firefighters work, talking, playing games and eating pizza.
Thankfully the house was safe and we were able to go back up to it in the evening. We did the 4th of July BBQ a little later than planned and sat around processing the day. I snapped our family photo for the day, so glad to be all together, safe and sound.
I must say that hearing fireworks going off on our street as our heads hit the pillow that night was a little alarming. How very care-free all those people were about fire (as I usually am too on this holiday!). The last thing I wanted was to see a fire for a good, long time.
All in all though, we are very grateful for our freedoms and our country. I am grateful that we live in a safe place where we have sweet sheriffs and hardworking firefighters that respond quickly to emergencies. I am grateful for my family and friends. Life is good.