Evacuate or not from Doce Fire?
A fire that no one thought would top Granite Mountain reached the bottom of the mass within what seemed like minutes Tuesday evening; thus, the Doce Fire - that I thought would never get close to my house - was now less than a few miles from the place I call home.
The flames were visible on Granite's peak shortly after 4:15, and a call from our photo editor, Les, at about 4:45 told me the homes northeast of the mountain were now in the fire's line.
Knowing that, though, it still was a daunting decision: to evacuate or not?
We got word at about 6 p.m. Tuesday from the Sheriff's Jeep Posse that we had to evacuate. The horse trailer was ready and we started packing. We pulled out at about 8:30; at some point while packing I shot the accompanying photo. On the right side of the image is my truck; on the left are the flames and smoke less than one mile to the southwest.
The winds had shifted the blaze toward us while we worked to leave.
But to stay or go? I know of more than one-half dozen people who have stayed behind. Sheriff Scott Mascher told the community meeting tonight that 465 homes have been evacuated, but people in 15 to 20 of them have chosen to not go. They have decided to ride it out, or defend their property. That is their right legally, Mascher told me, as long as they stay on their property.
As for us, we opted for evacuation. If I, or my family, had stayed behind we would worry not only about the house - but also for our own safety. Staying elsewhere we now worry primarily about our property, which can be rebuilt. In addition we are concerned for our neighbors and the firefighters.
I would add also that people think they can stay as long as possible, and then make a quick departure if needed. They forget the destructive power and unpredictability of fire. It's not the same as a hurricane or other storm.
Stay safe out there, folks. Get to a safe place.