We have been evacuated...
The Mullen Fire
The Mullen Fire was reported in the Savage Run Wilderness on September 17th. As of this past Friday Morning, it had been working it's way over the top of the Snowy Range mountains onto the Centennial side little by little. We had our stuff packed and we had planned to start moving our important belongings to a safer place as a precautionary measure during the coming weekend.
But on Friday afternoon, things rapidly and dramatically shifted. Hot winds began to carry the fire South and West faster than fire crews could do anything to even slow it down. The best they could do was to clear the way. I was at work when I got the call from Chris, "you need to get home now." My co-workers were understanding and finished up for me so I could take off. I felt helpless so far away from home and I imagined everything that I cared about was at risk of being engulfed by the fire- judging by the huge train of black smoke I was racing upstream to the West. The smell of smoke got thicker and heavier as I got closer and closer.
It was increasingly difficult to keep my shaking lead foot off the accelerator enough to somewhat try to follow the speed limits. As I drove, I called several people, friends who had offered their help previously in the week, neighbors, and family. I knew that once I got into the valley there was no telling what the rest of the night would be like. When I finally pulled onto the dirt road that is our driveway, I could see Chris already had people lined out on getting equipment and animals loaded. I showed up just as the last of the sunlight was slipping behind the thick black smoke cloud. I ran through the sagebrush and checked in with Chris to see where I could be most useful. I hugged our neighbors who had come to help. It felt so good to have people we loved around us. I started loading animals, gathering fencing, stacking water troughs, scooping up anything I thought we might need to keep our animals happy and healthy for who knows how long. The animals loaded really easily. Thankfully- they are used to moving. I ran through the house and grabbed a handful of things, important papers, some random books- I don't even remember most of what I grabbed honestly. We had packed the most important stuff in our camper earlier in the week so I felt ready in that respect. Thanks to all of these people who came to help us, we made it out with most of our animals, and everything truly important that I can think of now, before the road closed. Unfortunately, one of our pigs refused to load into the trailer with the rest, we also could not find 'Waffles' the donkey, or our cat in the thick smokey dark. I left all the gates open and hoped all three would be smart enough to find their way to safety if needed.
I hooked up the chicken coop to Chris's truck- we were lucky that this happened at night- when all the chickens had already put themselves to bed- or else we would never have gotten the hens back into the coop! Chris hooked up the camper to our other pickup and we headed down the dirt road. The smoke was burning my eyes and throat as we hit Fox Creek Road. I could see a Carbon Power and Light truck with a crew working to turn off the power line. I sighed as I thought about all the sheep milk I had in the freezer from the entire-summer's worth of milking my sheep, but I reminded myself how lucky we were to be getting most of the animals out like we were. Luckily, many of our friends and customers helped us out this week by purchasing meat from us and taking immediate delivery on it so we would not lose it in our own freezers if the power got turned off. We are really grateful to those of you who did this for us!
That night and the next day the Mullen Fire- helped along by 75mph winds- went ripping Westward through several communities and ranches on its way. The fire more than doubled in size on Saturday, more evacuations were put in place and much of the Centennial Valley, and areas around Sheep Mountain went through a mass exodus of people, cattle, and other livestock.
Luckily, Sunday brought cooler temps, less wind, and even a little bit of snow which seemed to slow the fire down some, and Monday started off calm and cool and eased my nerves a bit. According to the maps the place we were on hasn't burnt. I don't think we are totally out of the woods yet, but things are looking good so far. I don't think we will be able to go home for a few more days as there are still active edges of the fire and containment has now dropped down to 0%. I have been focusing on the positives and trying to stay distracted honestly. Situations like this really make me realize how fortunate we are.
So many people helped us get our animals and our most important stuff out. We had enough time to get ourselves out- when it comes to natural disasters, I know a lot of folks don't even get that much. Right now it feels like we are on some weird mandatory semi-vacation or something. We are staying at a friend's house on a nearby cattle ranch. they have generously offered us space, electricity, water and feed for our animals. Our animals don't seem all that stressed about this stuff.It's just more of the same for them. Different scenery, and thankfully, less smoke! I'm so grateful that we are mobile like we are. As far as the Taste of the Wind Crew is concerned, it's another good week on the Anywhere Ranch.
We had to leave all our animal feed behind, but our friends at the Soup Kitchen and Bond's Brewing are helping us keep our animals fed on spent grains, produce, bread, and kitchen scraps through the week! I still have work in Laramie thankfully, since Chris will be out of work for a bit. I can't fully express my gratitude for fire fighters and officials who are stationed on this fire. They have been doing an incredible job given the circumstances- they are truly heroes! If you are interested in staying up on the most current Mullen Fire Info there are daily live briefings on the Mullen Fire Information page on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/MullenFire and there is a current map and other info on Inciweb: https://inciweb.nwcg.gov/incident/7208 I am overwhelmed with gratitude on a daily basis as I realize over and over that we are safe, we are loved, we are taken care of, we are provided for. Life is pretty good.
- BJ, Chris and the Taste of the Wind Crew