Firefighters evacuated nearly 30 homes Monday night in a neighborhood on the outskirts of Mountain Home. High winds pushed right through the neighborhood, destroying six homes.
Crews Tuesday were able to get this grassland fire completely out. Now, the evacuated families are coming to grips with what happened.
The neighborhood, not far from Mountain Home’s airport, looks pretty typical. There are trailers and modest-sized homes with green lawns out front and horses out back. But in between them there’s a long narrow lot that’s scarred black with soot and burnt grass. This is where home’s used to stand. What remains are heaps of metal debris, twisted beyond recognition.
Tristian Baublitz says she was on her computer Monday evening when she smelled smoke and saw flames leap toward her home. " I didn’t have my phone on me and it ended up burning up in the fire," says Baublitz. "I had my keys, and my car, and my kid. We were out of there. We didn’t even stop. We had a few things in our house – my husband is really sad that - mementoes that we can’t replace, but most of it we can."
Just steps from where Baublitz’s rented home used to stand, Jack Weece washes ash and soot off his car. Monday night, he noticed smoke and a house engulfed in flames near the main road.
Weece turned on his sprinklers. Within ten minutes the fire had spread to his place. Weece says, "The flames were coming right over the top of our house. If you look right here, these trees are all scorched so the flames were coming past the house. The car was parked right here where it was. We ran out, braved the heat, jumped in the car and left."
He and his wife and dog got in the car and fled. Scorched flowers and trees, and some soot on his house are the only signs a fire came so close. Weece spent several hours watching the fire from a restaurant near his home.
Baublitz and her five year old daughter found shelter with her brother in Mountain Home. "I’m very lucky I have family in town," she says. "I have a great church community and they’ve been driving me around all day and saying what do you need, what do you need."
Baublitz’ husband is a long haul trucker now on his way home from Iowa. When she called him Monday night, she told him the family was safe. He should take his time and get to Idaho safely. "I don’t focus on what we lost," says Baublitz. "I focus on the fact that my daughter’s safe, my husband’s safe. We have our health. We can rebuild."
Baublitz says the van was the only thing they have left. She says they’ll stay in a family-owned apartment as they start to rebuild their lives.
Copyright 2012 Boise State Public Radio