Mission Creek solitude interrupted by fire
Tuesday, September 11, 2012
CASHMERE — Russ Elliott loves living up Mission Creek Road.
“It’s the quiet, the solitude,” he said. “And you can’t see the neighbors.”
He was, unfortunately, seeing a lot of them out on the road about 2 p.m. Tuesday as residents hauled prized possessions out of their houses and down the road toward safekeeping.
Spurring the moves were Level 3 evacuation notices, which strongly urge people to leave their property, given out to the 12 to 15 residences beyond the road block several miles from town. By mid-afternoon, with two truckloads ready to go, Elliott said he’d gotten “most of the stuff out of the house that had value” and he and his wife Pat were planning to move in temporarily with a relative.
He said he hoped his house would be safe because he had no insurance. He said he couldn’t get it because his house is just outside the Fire District 6 boundary.
John Stewart was taking care of property owned by his father, Bob Stewart, and said he wasn’t thinking of getting out. “We have hoses and stuff and we’ll work with the neighbors to get through this,” he said.
Harmony Silverman, John Stewart’s partner, was worried that the school bus would be unable to get through the road block and bring her kids home. She said she was also concerned that there might not be enough firefighters to protect the property.
“There are so many fires and only so much staff,” she said. “ I really hope we’ll be a priority.”
Nita Miller, who owns orchards up Mission Creek with her husband, Sherel, said she hoped that the green belt of the orchards would protect their home. “I think we’ll be safe unless something flies across the road and gets onto something,” she said. “My husband is ready to turn the sprinklers on whenever that fire gets close.”
Despite warnings from firefighters, she said she didn’t think she or her husband would leave the property.
“He won’t go, so I’m not going,” she said. “I’ve always said, ‘If we’re going to go, we’ll go together.’ “
Paul Rohrbach, the Chelan County sheriff’s deputy who made the call to put the upper Mission Creek area on Level 3, said he was worried about residents becoming trapped. The back side of Mission Creek Road is full of fire, he said, leaving the down side as the only escape route.
Fire was burning above the homes and he said he was concerned that rolling debris would start the lower area on fire and then people couldn’t get out.
Near the roadblock, Rohrbach stopped a motorcyclist who was coming down Mission Creek Road. The man, who was from British Columbia, said he had come in on a back road near Table Mountain out of Ellensburg and made it through the fire area to Mission Creek Road, uninjured and, the motorcyclist said, without seeing a road closed sign.
Rohrbach marveled at the man’s luck.
“He said ‘The fire was right there at my feet — I was dodging flames,’ ” Rohrbach said.
Dee Riggs: 664-7147
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