"And, I got da BRONCHITIS." Sorry, folks...my sense of humor :0)
"Ain't nobody got time for dat"
The fire started at a little past 3 pm I heard. At about 4:15, one of my coworkers said, "Suzanne, did you hear about the fire on San Francisquito Canyon?" My heart fell to my feet. I was physically nauseous. I was shaking head to toe. My God...I have to get to Jet. I would have died trying.
A decade ago, we had a huge fire, The Copper fire, come up the canyon. I was at work that day, too. Thankfully, I only had two dogs at that time, Jet and Xena. It took me over an hour to get someone to take care of my patients. I followed a paramedic truck the back way home refusing to stop for any road blocks. When I arrived home, the dogs were gone and the fire was raging up the canyon. The fire captain's wife took Xena and the firemen apologized over and over saying, "We tried to catch the little black and white dog in his kennel, but he got around us and ran from us." My God.....I called and yelled and no Jet anywhere. He was only whistle trained to a recall at that time. I whistled and whistled and no Jet. The flames were hundreds of feet in the air and coming right for the house. The firemen almost had to carry me off the property. I drove into town and waited. While I waited I talked to every news station I could and showed photos of Jet. I will leave you with that for my next blog about that particular story.
I just wanted you to know how I felt to have to go through this again. I tried to get a hold of Wayne for 30 min. calling and paging every phone number I knew with no luck. No answer. I called our neighbor. No answer. I called the Heart and Soul Cafe and they told me they were also trying to reach Wayne. They were trying to find a volunteer to get my dogs. They told me the fire was headed right for my house. I called the nursing supervisor and endorsed my critical care patients to the charge nurse. My friend who initially told me about the fire asked her husband to come to the hospital. Her husband is a policeman. They knew I would never be able to get to the house unless he took me in his police car.
This is what we saw as we turned off of Spunky Canyon onto San Francisquito Canyon
Chris kept asking me, "Where is your house?" "In that smoke," I cried.
'Chris" picked me up in front of the hospital at 5 pm. And, that began Mr. Toad's wild ride. The traffic was HELL getting out of the city, because so many roads were blocked. This wasn't Chris's territory, so I gave the directions and he did the NASCAR driving. Chris was "kind" on the eyes and one "hell" of a driver. Lord have mercy. We took the back road through Spunky Canyon which is about as winding as you can get with deep and steep drop offs. Since Chris had never driven the road, I'm yelling out, "Left, Right, Right...Oh my God, SLOW down, we are gonna die!" As we peaked the top of Spunky Canyon I could see the dark black smoke in huge cumulous looking clouds right where I would expect to see my house. "Shit...we are too late!" "No, were not....Chris said...if anybody asks who you are at the road blocks, say you have known me all my life." "10-4, Eleanor," I say while wiping huge crocodile tears from my cheeks. I kept muttering the mantra, "JET...I'm coming. Jet, I'm coming for you."
And through the road blocks they waved us on. At the last road block I saw a friend who pulled in right behind us and followed us to the house with our lights a flashing. The place was full of firemen. They were already in the house. The trucks were hooked up to our water storage tank. They had retrieved the 3 old dogs from the back kennel. The 3 young BCs were still in their kennels. When I opened the front door I was met by Trouble, Xena, and Jet. Thankfully, my van was already loaded to go to a stock dog trial the very next day. I threw a few extra crates in there and loaded all 6 dogs. They were bombing the hillside across from us with fire retardant slurry. The hotshots were there chain sawing all of my beautiful trees. I only grabbed a large canvas photo of my grandson and I at Jalama beach.
I took this photo with my iphone as we were set to get the hell out of there.
The gal that followed us to my home from town came as a passenger with another friend. They had planned on getting my dogs. The dogs know Leslie because she cleans my house once in a while. Since I now had the dogs, Leslie took my Avalanche truck. A girl has to have priorities and that truck is a favorite of mine :0) She said she would take it to her house in Elizabeth lake. Little did we know that the fire was headed to Elizabeth lake and Lake Hughs. When we picked up the truck 5 days later, a house 3 doors down was still burning. Phew....
I'm in the van (the dash in the foreground) starting down one of our driveways, Leslie's friend is behind Chris who is in the in the cop car. Leslie is behind me in my Avalanche. They were already bulldozing around the sheep acreage as we arrived. I saw quite a few people with stock trailers, but they were all saving their own stock. The firemen knew the sheep were there.
Across from us is a large thoroughbred farm. As we came down San Francisquito we saw 4 huge horse trailers taking all the horses out of fire danger.
I drove to Leona Valley to an elementary school where I tried to catch my breath and upright dog crates that had flipped over while trying to get out of there in a hurry. I finally decided to drive to a girlfriend's house in Santa Clarita. No kidding, when I arrived, I thought I was going to have a heart attack. It was too close a call. I have so many people to thank.
I will tell you that I wrote a thank-you card with all of the dog's pictures, ages, and names on it for Carrie who told me about the fire and for Chris, her husband, who got me to my dogs in time, with the help of his police car. They will never know how much their random act of kindness meant to me. Heck, I had never even met Chris before. Most random acts of kindness go without reward. You can best believe I gave them (a young couple) a sizable monetary reward and prayed they would accept it. It was the least I could do. I have my dogs.
I kept my promise to Jet.
Next blog: Jet's story of the Copper fire a decade ago.