Reno fire, Friday, November 18, 2011

Friday, November 18 started like most days. I slept in till about 5am. After cleaning the kitty litter box (there’s cats, gotta keep up!) I went out to drop the bag in the trash, “hmmm, smells like smoke. Wonder where the fire is?” I went back in and turned on the news – South Reno is on fire!  Since the reports don’t pinpoint where the fire is I figure I had better get dresses and get on down to the barn.

It was still dark at about 5:40 when I got to the barn. It was VERY windy, smoky and I could see flames across Lakeside, the road that runs to the west of the property. Though they were impressive in the dark, they were far away and by sunrise, they appeared to be out down.

It was pretty early when I started to get text messages from people checking in, “are you ok? Are the horses safe?”  I was happy to report that it looked like things in our area were going to be fine. I e-mailed and even spoke to Lori Ward, the property owner’s right-hand gal, telling her that, though the winds were fierce I couldn’t see any flames nearby.

I got busy sending out e-mails and following up on work that needed doing. Bambi called at about 7am. She was surprised at how quiet things were when she got up and it took her awhile to discover where I was and to learn about the fire. “Do you need me to come to the ranch? Do I have time to take a shower and get some book work done?”  I assured her that things were under control, “but, I don’t think I have ever seen it this windy!” Before she hung up, Bambi suggested that I call our friend Gwen, “she lives in Caughlin. We want to make sure she is ok.” I agreed and called as soon as I hung up.

Gwen answered her phone, “we’re right outside the barn. Do you need any help?” I was happy to see Gwen and her wonderful daughters, Tess and Alex, it’s always nice to have company while feeding the horses and cleaning the horses’ stalls. As they fought the wind to open the barn door, they called out to me, “you’re being evacuated!”  I was stunned!  They quickly told me that the fire had raced down a nearby hill, jumped Lakeside and was ravaging Bartley Ranch, just a couple of blocks away from the barn.

I grabbed the phone and called Bambi, “We’re being evacuated. You need to get down here. We’ll head for the flats below the park.”

Gwen asked if I needed help hooking up the trailer. “We’re gunna walk out. The trailer is a 3-horse and we have 4!  Tess and Alex quickly haltered up Baxter and Ruby, the horses that they know best, while I grabbed Kody and Mystic. Gwen told us that we could go to “Marty’s” a nearby ranch were they had kept horses in the past. I told her my plan to take them to a large grass flat area east of Bartley. As we headed down the driveway, I could see huge flames just behind the houses across the street. By the time we made it past a couple of houses, down to DelMonte, I saw the wall of flames in the direction I had planned to go. Police and Fire personnel were turning people back. We would have to go the other way, to Marty’s.

We had been by his place once before so I knew that it was just a couple of miles down the road and through a neighborhood. Two lanes, lots of cars, people frantic to get where they were going, but everyone was so kind. Strangers asking, “do you need a trailer? Do you need someone to take the horses?” And the horses. They were soooooo good!  Walking along, on the side of the road, or in the road when there was no shoulder, and just trusting Gwen, Tess, Alex and I to get them somewhere safe.

Meanwhile, back at the ranch…just after talking to me, Bambi got a call from Monica Geddry, a wonderful woman who has recently come into our lives, offering her truck and 3-horse trailer to help get us to safety.  This was great and Bambi eagerly accepted, arranging for Monica to meet her at the ranch. Bambi had my sweetie, Brian Davis, drive her to the ranch (no point in having an extra car to deal!). But the way was slow, with Police and Firefighters trying to turn them back, “there’s a fire up ahead.” Really? “Yes, I know! That’s why I have to get through. I have horses to move.” Bambi (being Bambi) convinced them to let her through.

Though Bambi and I tried repeatedly to call each other, in the chaos we had not been able to make contact, so she did not know that Gwen, the girls and I were walking the horses out. She was frantic when she got to the ranch and found me gone. She hooked up the truck and trailer. Monica came in on foot, as she had not been as successful in convincing Firefighters/Police that she had to get through.

By this time, Gwen, the girls and I had made it to Marty’s. He and his wife Liz welcomed us, allowing us to put the horses in their arena and telling us to take hay to feed them.  After several attempts, I was finally able to get in touch with Bambi again, “Where are you!?” I explained what had happened and made plans for Bambi and Monica, her son Jordan and her friend Bill to join us at Marty’s.

When Bambi arrived all we could do was hold on to each other. She was overwhelmed when she did not know where we were. Both of us had tried to keep in touch, but ultimately, we both just had to trust that the other was taking care of what they could and all would be well.  She spent some time checking in with each of the horses. I shared with her how great they had been as we walked them down the road past so many new sights, and with the wind whipping, everything had the potential to be spooky!

Through the day, both Bambi and I received multiple phone calls/text messages from our many friends, “are you ok? Do you need help? You can bring the horses here.” These calls continued throughout the day and have meant so much to us! THANK YOU TO ALL THE FRIENDS, AQUANTANCES AND STRANGERS WHO OFFERED THEIR HANDS, THEIR HELP AND THEIR HOMES TO BAXTER, KODY, MYSTIC, RUBY, BAMBI AND I. You make everything bearable!

The happy ending for us is that the horses are fine. The ranch was spared the devastation of the fire. We will be moving the horses back to the barn this morning and will begin seeing clients later today. Again, thank you to all of you, and especially, Gwen, Tess, Alex, Monica, Brian, Marty & Liz – you are the angels that saw us through!


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