There are more fires in Washington. Many are burning out of control. Up north towns are being evacuated. We had phone calls this evening from missionaries in Omak who were being evacuated with the rest of the town. They were heading to Ephrata to stay with our Elders there.
Our air is smoke-filled and hazy everywhere you look. This morning we headed north to check on our missionaries in the areas where fires are causing trouble. We drove 2.5 hours to Chelan, a beautiful resort town that has been ravaged by wildfires this week. Our missionaries there were having a district meeting at the church. We joined them for an excellent meeting directed by Elder Call. We brought some freshly picked fruit from a fruit stand in Yakima–peaches, Honey Crisp apples, apricots and Italian plums. Elder Carter, Elder Haws, Elder Cataldo, Elder Call, Sister Streuling, and Sister Capi.
Sister Capi and Sister Streuling live in Manson, just beyond Chelan. They’ve been in a hot zone, but a small lake was between them and the fires. Sis. Capi showed us her smoke mask.
Here is the church building in Chelan:
We all went into town for lunch after the District Meeting. We had sandwiches at Subway. There are fire information stations like this one all over town. You can get daily updates with maps and emergency information. This volunteer is pointing to where we were right then.
The Sisters are pointing to where they live in Manson. you can see where the fire burned across the lake. Then we drove to Manson, where the Sisters live with a local member in The Purple House. They showed us around and we looked out over Roses Lake to where the fire was still smoldering.It was so smokey, it was hard to see across this small lake. When it’s dark you can still see the embers smoldering on the hillsides.
Here’s where the Sisters live.
It’s hard to see the burned mountainsides in the haze. Many orchards were burned, but some survived like the one below, although the rows on the end were scorched. All the mountains in the photos below are completely burned.
Next we drove to Wenatchee to visit Elder Jarman and Elder Wilmas.There was a horrible fire in Wenatchee at the very end of June. We heard about it our first week here. After meeting with Elder Jarman and Elder Wilmas, we drove a few blocks from the church to the neighborhood where more than 20 homes burned to the ground. It was a lovely neighborhood up on the hillside. The fire burned some homes and skipped others. Several LDS families live in the Sage Hills Ward in that neighborhood. Their homes were all skipped. Some had homes on either side of theirs totally destroyed.
Here’s what the neighborhood looks like 6 weeks later. You can see the mountain behind the homes is totally burned. Some homes had backyards completely burned, but the homes were saved. The neighbors told us a month ago it looked like a war zone. It was a pretty grim sight. Families lost everything. It’s kind of a reality check. The member family we talked to in the area said they had about 5 minutes to evacuate and there was really no time to think about what to take. They just had to go. They told us about two boys who sneaked back to their home to grab their X-box and the boys discovered their neighbor’s backyard was on fire. They got garden hoses and others joined them and they were able to stop the fire. If they hadn’t been there, several more homes would have been lost.
I hope everyone is safe tonight and I hope these fires around the state and in Idaho and Montana and California will soon be extinguished.