I am so sorry I am just now posting this!
I am also very excited for all of you viewers to read about how marvelous our God is; this story is truly a testimony of how much power Jesus Christ has over EVERYTHING! Even the weather and elements!
Here is the story from Sister Elisabeth’s point of view, as well as some photos.
“Little did we know that the Goodwin Forest Fire would be the means that God would use to show us and so many others His mighty hand.
It was on Friday evening, June 23, 2017 arriving home from an afternoon of shopping that I first became aware that a forest fire had started in the vicinity of Pine Flats, about 7 miles from our home. There are several mountain ranges separating us from Pine Flats and we didn’t even consider that it might reach our little valley.
Our home is located 2.5 miles from the highway and our nearest neighbor is also that far away. We are completely off-grid, making our own power. National Forest land is the view from our front window and we have enjoyed making this our home for the last 21 years, raising our kids in the country, having a hobby farm and showing hospitality to God’s children from all over the world.
Over the weekend we just kept watching the online reports about the fire and observed planes and helicopters as they flew over our place delivering water and dropping slurry in the Pine Flats area.
It seemed as if the fire might be getting nearer but it’s hard to tell when you are looking at mountain ranges and all you see is a small furling of smoke. Besides, there was nothing online to indicate it was coming our way.
But on Monday, June 26, it really did seem as if the smoke was closer.
Tuesday morning, June 27, I signed up for a red code alert on my phone. This is a service offered by public safety officials to let you know of various issues in your area and it was recommended in our situation to let us know of possible evacuations.
I still was not completely thinking the fire would affect us but I registered our number anyways.
In the middle of all this we were preparing for a cross-country trip we take every year to a youth camp. Our kids had already started to pack for that, which was a good thing.
That very morning (Tuesday) we received a pre-evacuation call, then about 30 minutes later an evacuation call. By this time we could see some flames from our home. The fire department and sheriff also arrived a bit later to let us know there was a mandatory evacuation going on.
We hurriedly finished the packing for our trip and gathered some precious belongings.
What do you grab when you have only a short time? My kids got their special boxes in which I’ve put things that were meaningful to them since they were young. I took special quilts, our wedding pictures and a few mementos. Our computers were taken on which I have thousands of pictures and my husband has his business records. Birth Certificates, passports, and SSN cards were grabbed.
But so many things had to be left behind.
When the flames came over the ridge to the east of our house, my husband said I had to go. If the fire came too fast and crossed our road my exit route would be cut off. He and my son, Wesley were going to stay behind and do what they could to protect our home and when it became critical they would leave, riding a quad and taking a back route.
I left the house with a Suburban full of things and pulling a trailer with some of our belongings. Serenity, our daughter, was behind me driving a truck with our two youngest children, a dog, 2 pigs and some more belongings. It was a strange moment in time for me, driving out not knowing if I would be coming back to our home or not.
The above picture was taken once I reached the Highway. Shortly after this they closed the a large section of highway for a few days.
There were over 500 firefighters on the Goodwin Fire, a Level I team on the job of which there are only 5 in the nation and 6- 737’s came from Sacramento, California to join in the firefighting efforts.
In the beginning, nothing was being done to protect our home since there is a small nearby town that had to be evacuated and fire officials probably wanted to concentrate their efforts where the most good could be done. But finally, at about 7pm, the planes started dropping slurry in different parts of our valley.
I should add that wind is always a problem this time of year and it was quite windy which wasn’t helpful at all.
https://www.youtube.com/edit?o=U&video_id=5g2bEI0m_pg (Link to You Tube video) The video shows the progress of the fire as well as planes dropping slurry.
At about 10pm that night, my husband and Wesley were still at the house and I received the update that the fire was about 1000 yards from our home. At that point, the wind blew the fire a different direction. Then come morning, Wednesday, June 28, the fire started blowing towards our home once again. Russell and Wesley watered down the roof, placed a hose that they had pricked a multitude of holes into on the roof, turned the water on so it would keep most of the roof moist and left on the quad. At this point the fire was 100 yards from our home.
It wasn’t until many hours later that we found out that our home and cabin were still standing. We were so amazed and excited at this news!
That same evening, June 28, Russell convinced the Sheriff to let him drive back to our property. He was wanting to ascertain whether there was damage to our electrical system as well as to see if the well electronics had survived the fire. All was completely fine. We had power, we had water! Down the road and across the highway we knew people who didn’t have electricity for 3 days (even though they are hooked up to city utilities) but we were fine!
Our entire valley was completely devastated but by the miraculous hand of God the fire did not touch our home, cabin or outbuildings. The fire split on both sides of our house and our cabin.
This photo shows how the fire went around both our house and cabin, even burning up through the middle of the two but leaving a band of green around both places which will keep them from experiencing erosion from the heavy rains we get during the monsoon season.
Directly in front of our house, the fire actually stopped right at our property line! It could have jumped the narrow road easily because it jumped 4 lanes and a median down at the highway. It was so obvious that God protected our place and heard the prayers of the hundreds and hundreds that were praying that I couldn’t stop crying when I first saw our place after the fire.
The arrows on this photo show our property line. What’s amazing about the fire not burning to the property line on the right is that since our house is built almost on the property line, the fire would have come tremendously close to our home but God preserved a band of green all around our place.
We have seen so many more evidences of His watchful hand on this place after the fire – from how there were fire crews stationed here at our place to make sure none of the little fires still burning in our valley ignited any of our buildings (we had left for the youth camp), to there being absolutely zero smoke damage in our home, to having plenty of greenery left around our place that we will not experience any erosion issues in our yard, to not one ember landed on the nylon shade fabric we have placed on our pergola. So amazing. One ember and they would have melted but there isn’t one burn mark!
In walking our property I found only 3 things, besides some vegetation burned on our property and that was an aluminum fishing boat, 2 pieces of metal and a water hose.
Some photos of the burn.
He was so merciful to us and showed His mighty hand, proving He is in complete control and even the elements obey Him. We get so happy when we turn off the highway and look up into the hills where we live; we can see the black from the fire everywhere but around the hill on which we live, it is mostly green. We look out our front window and see where the fire stopped at our property line and we are reminded of God’ miraculous intervention.
This trial (a blessing in disguise) has increased my faith in that I know we are in His watchful care and that nothing escapes Him or happens by chance, that even though we may feel so insignificant, to God we are important and He knows all about us.”
Great is the Lord, and greatly to be praised… Psalms 48:1
I want to thank Sis. Elisabeth for taking the time to write out this post for us! It was a good read, but more than just a read. It was a reality her family actually experienced! When you read this, place yourselves in the Wallace family’s proverbial shoes, and realize how devastating it could’ve been, and how amazing our God really is!!!
Tell us how you enjoyed this Guest Post! You can also visit Sister Elisabeth’s blog at http://treasuringthemoments.net/