We need help to recover from the Bear Fire. Our two yurt “skins” (the roofs and walls) as well as one of our 5,000 water gallon tanks need to be replaced.
We were one of only a few landowners who were significantly affected by the Bear Fire in Boulder Creek California. The wildfire started October 16, 2017 10:30 pm and wasn’t fully contained until October 27th. California Department of Forestry and our all-volunteer Boulder Creek Fire Department went out of their way to save our yurts, but there was still significant damage to the yurts themselves. The 30ft. yurt damage is obvious, but we discovered that our 24ft. yurt also sustained damage due to the fierce heat of the fire. It may have been a slow-moving fire, but the heat was incredibly intense due to the dense underbrush of the forest.
When it became clear that the fire was extremely close to us, Greg had me evacuate immediately. At approximately 1:30am I, along with Jack the cat, left the property and spent all day waiting to hear news from Greg. Greg, in his youth, fought wildfires near Shasta, so he had a good understanding of what to expect and when to give up the good fight. He spent the day hosing down the two yurts and dousing embers that preceded the fire. We didn’t think the fire would affect us, however the wind shifted and it started to head towards our property. At dusk, Greg knew he had to leave since the fire was headed straight for our yurts – while water and boride had been dropped in the path of the oncoming fire, that activity is always halted at night.
I spent a rough day wondering how Greg was – our phone reception on the property was spotty, but he checked in sporadically. All day I heard from friends and family wondering if we were affected by the fire. At first, I heard the fire was headed in a different direction, so that’s what I (prematurely) texted out to all concerned. Greg and I finally met up at our friend Randy’s place at 7pm Tuesday night.
Wednesday was a hard day to get through - we got conflicting texts from neighbors – reports of the fire passing us by then reports that our property was burned came in from well-meaning neighbors. A text sent at 11:15am: “I just talked to big Mike (who volunteers for the Boulder Creek Fire Department). He said at 9pm last night your place was still ok but that the fire was creeping down from the ridge toward yours and my place – he said point blank “the fire’s probably a lot closer to your house than you think”.” A text sent at 7:09 pm: “I saw Josh (a neighbor). He said he saw them with hoses at your place but that they weren’t able to save it this afternoon about 4.”
Right before Greg left, he went up to the upper 5,000 gallon water tank (one of two we had) and found that the heat was so fierce right above it that it singed one side of his facial hair! He knew then it was time to evacuate. At some point after he left, the tank exploded and approximately 2,000 gallons of water headed in the direction of our two yurts. While it was a bummer that the tank went, we believe it helped our cause immeasurably.
Thursday, October 19th, Greg was able to get to our property and see for himself – there were 3 fire trucks up at the yurts and many firemen and firewomen were working to save our place. Needless to say he fell to his knees overwhelmed with gratitude. The news video attached tells the story much better than I can. We are so indebted to them – they worked so hard and were clearly very determined and dedicated. Larry Wooldridge and his crew from La Grande Oregon headed up the effort. Continued firefighting was conducted by the Boulder Creek Fire Department who came out for several days after the fire passed through to locate and douse hot spots.
Nothing inside the yurt burned – the teak table inherited from my parents has a few burn marks, but that’s the extent of the burn damage. The 30ft yurt wall and roof melted in one area, as you can see in the picture. You can see from another picture that we have tarped the area where the wall and roof melted – we check it often to make sure no water is getting in. We initially thought the 24ft. yurt escaped any damage, but Greg has discovered that the wall and roof sustained heat damage. We are still assessing and dealing with the smoke damage. The 30ft. yurt, which is our living space, still has a noticeable smoke smell. We have been going to the property most weekend days and some week days to pack up belongings and to clean what we can, but the smoke residue makes the yurt unlivable. We are hoping an air unit will remove the smell, while we remove the objects that are contributing to it.
Our friends the Barton’s have opened up their home to us. Bebe and Dave are truly generous people – they have been so kind and loving during this very trying and emotional time. Greg and I do not easily ask for help, but we have been taken in and are still staying with them as we work to get our place livable. We cannot thank them enough for the open-ended invitation to live in their home.
As a side note, our cat has been happily living in my Subaru Forester. Who knew he was a car cat? He’s doing remarkably well for a 12-year-old cat that is used to roaming our property at will. He travels with me much of the time and has full reign of the car, but it’s true that he prefers the passenger seat with the seat warmer on “high”! And of course we spoil him – he’s been one of the few bright spots in this otherwise upsetting experience.
Our Financial Needs
Here are our needs:
1) 5,000 gallon tank (delivered) $3,600
2) 24ft. yurt roof and wall (with insulation) $9,000
3) 30ft. yurt roof and wall (with insulation) $12,000
4) Cistern for 24ft. yurt $ 420
Due to winter rains, we will not be able to replace the walls and roofs of both yurts until springtime. The cistern is a new addition for us, not a replacement as the other items are. We determined that we need to gather more water for just such emergencies as we just went through.
Sharing and/or Donating
We are hopeful that you will consider a donation to help us replace what was lost to the fire as well as better prepare in the event of another wildfire. Your support will be so very much appreciated.
Please feel free to share this post. There are so many people who have offered to help, but we don’t have everyone’s contact information.
Ann and Greg
- Billie Jean Sgarlato
- Jeanne Landon-Campbell
- SALLY PHILLIPS
- Kara Shuler
Boulder Creek, CA