I read with special interest Rick Sokol’s remarks about being “tired of scare tactics” regarding fire safety. You write about several fires in the area, and Payson faired well.
I am on the side of brush removal and clearing a defense line. When conditions are just right, Payson could suffer the same consequences as Paradise, Calif.
I am a survivor of the Paradise fire. We often, in the 50 years I lived there, had fires in the surrounding area and house fires. We also had a very skilled fire department that kept us safe. That is until Nov. 8, 2018 when all they could do was try and rescue people.
The fire started 15 miles away from us, started by a downed power line spark. The ground was very dry and it was windy. Some of us on the east side of town had no warning at all because the towers and phone lines were down. We woke up that morning to a black sky with embers inside the rolling inferno. Embers were falling everywhere at once, and everywhere one landed it started another fire. My property was cleared 100 yards away from the street, but both neighbors had no clearing. I had a fire retardant roof with two sprinklers, but nothing stopped that fire.
We dressed and ran downstairs to find we were already trapped. Fire was everywhere. We held hands and prayed to be taken by smoke, instead of the flames. We wet ourselves down and put wet towels over our heads and decided to run for it. I couldn’t even save my beloved pet, or even my purse with all my identification in it. Within those few minutes, everything was gone. With my car and truck on fire we headed toward the end of the driveway and made it out. The whole block was on fire, we didn’t know at that time that the whole town was in flames. I believe we had divine intervention to escape. What I am sharing here is barely half of the story of escape.
I had a large defense line, but my neighbors did not. The fire was so hot and moving so fast it had a life of its own. A fire tornado followed us out of town. We still occasionally have nightmares.
We don’t know why our lives were spared that day, perhaps it’s to warn people of Payson that indeed Payson is like a sister city to Paradise. My advice to residents of Payson is to leave decisions of fire safety, up to the experts who have your best interests at heart. Thank you firefighters for all you do.
Carol Hansford, Payson