Shortly after 11AM yesterday, we got a frantic phone call from of our neighbors to the north. All Cindy could understand was "fire". Quite quickly, she settled Leroy down enough to know it wasn't his house.
Turned out, he'd looked out his south porch and saw smoke to the southeast. He knew it was bad, but couldn't tell exactly where it was. Cindy and I were almost out the door when we saw the smoke to the northeast of us.
OMG it's Torry and Joe's place!
We jumped into the truck without even hanging up the phone, peeled out of our driveway and bounced down the road to their place. We were the third one's there.
Jeff and Patty, neighbors due north of us got there first. Jeff had already broken windows and doors looking for life. He also turned off the propane. What an awesome neighbor!
Pretty soon, we saw Joe coming in from the south. Turns out he'd seen the fire from his sister's place due south. He came home to see what was burning and what he could do... no cell phone in hand, he raced back to his sister's to call 911. Jeff had seen a white pickup leaving really, really fast and had attempted to chase him down, only to see him driving into the next drive.
He told us that Torry and the dog had gone to St. George. What a relief. No one was in the house.
Knowing that, we turned our attention to fire defense. Cindy and I left to get our tractor, while another neighbor (Clyde) put his on standby. Two other neighbors with tractors weren't home, so if needed, we'd call the big guys in. They'd come if called, no questions asked.
As the wind was blowing from the NE, we feared a tree line would burn and spread the fire to the tumbleweed, causing a range fire. That's where the tractors would come in handy,
About 45 minutes later, the Fire Departments began showing up. It's not that they are slow, it is that we are so rural. All three area departments are staffed by volunteers who work up to 30 miles from the stations. So, it takes a while to staff a truck and get it rolling. Along with the trucks were the sheriff's, the BLM fire guys, and the DNR trucks.
With full fire crews, we saved the tree line and prevented a range fire. Quite a feat considering water is provided by tanker trucks and they had to shuttle either one mile north or two miles south for water.
While the house is a total loss, the livestock are all safe as are Torry and Joe. They have a roof over their head as they are staying at the next farm down (Joe's sister's place).
The fifth guy on site before the trucks was the LDS Fifth Ward Bishop. He's organizing a Relief Team. They will assess the needs, provide vouchers for clothes, medical needs, and other supplies. The neighbors are supplying food as needed.
Once the investigation is complete, that same team will clean the property (with all our help) and re-build a house for them. That's the way things get done here on the desert.
We spoke with Torry this morning and she's ever so grateful for all the assistance. She had even felt that we should keep the goat milk for the little kid goats. We assured her that she would still get the milk, and that we also had plenty of home-raised ground beef to share.