This woman and her husband were forced to flee the area, so they packed up and went. There were two main roads heading out of town which were suppose to be set up so that all lanes were diverting traffic outwards. But one of the roads was completely blocked from traffic of news-crews and gawkers trying to come in, so no one could get out that way. Which meant that the other road was a clusterfuck of traffic. My dad's nurse said that she got a phone call from her daughter, who previously had told her that they were headed to safety. When she answered the phone, her daughter was sobbing hysterically. She said the road was impassable with traffic, there was fire on either side of the highway closing in and the air was as black as night with smoke. She said, "Mom, Mom, we can't get out. I think we're going to die here. I love you, Mom, I love you." This is what the nurse thought was the last time she’d ever hear her daughter’s voice.
Obviously she wouldn’t have been telling this story to my sister if it had ended that way, but imagine getting that phone call from your child and being able to do nothing for her. Eventually the daughter called back to say that some people had gotten out of their car and started directing traffic, picking which vehicles to go next in what I can only picture as some bizarre real-life reverse version of Tetris. They'd were now at a displacement camp just outside of the danger area, where the daughter - a trained chef - was volunteering along with many other chefs & cooks to help feed the throngs of firefighters who were there putting their lives on the line. Unfortunately, there were also people dressed up in fake firefighter outfits, looting the cars at the camp. This particular woman's husband, along with several other people, all armed with shotguns, have taken up residence in their cars, in an effort to guard their and their neighbors' vehicles from being looted.
Also, because the roads are so impassable due to traffic, no large vehicles can get in or out. The area is full of farms that couldn't get their livestock out, so ranchers have taken to opening all the gates in the desperate hope that their animals will make it to safety, guided by their own instincts to flee. The animals would mostly be branded, so there is a small chance they may get some of them back, but more importantly is that the animals have a chance to survive this way. It seems all animals everywhere in the area are fleeing, as this woman’s husband saw a bear, up close and personal like.
I was wary of re-telling this story here, mostly because it's not my story to tell, but I also feel like this story is the kind of thing that needs to be told when we talk about these kinds of wildfires. Because this is what these people go through - when you hear of them packing their family photos into the car and leaving, it’s really just not that simple and I, for one, had never thought about it quite like this before.
As I was a little uncomfortable sharing someone else's story here, please do not repost this anywhere. Feel free to link to it, but no reposting of the text, for this woman's privacy who doesn't know her mother is sharing it with strangers who happen to have an internet blog. Thanks, guys.