Sunday, July 12, 2009

Burning Cheyenne Valley

What a week. On Friday a spark started from a transformer caught a pasture on fire one mile north of Chester. That fire ended up destroying thousands of acres of land...including the Cheyenne Valley Ranch which lays about 15 miles north of Chester. We were blessed though. We got most of our cows out. There are some cows still bawling, we may have lost their calves...we'll know more tomorrow or the next day. The old ranch house we had remodeled was not damaged. The fire came right up to it. Three firetrucks were there to stop it. Firefighters from all over Oklahoma are still out there as the fire was still moving north, or it was last night It has probably crossed 412 which is between Orienta and Bouse Junction south of Waynoka. If it did they said it would be extremely hard to contain as there are no access roads, just large pastures.
Friday went like this: I went outside to go to the office and looked north, I noticed smoke and worried about my brother who was bulldozing north of our house. I called him and he was O.K. Our son-in-law Matt that moved home from D.C. is now a volunteer firefighter in Dewey County. He got word that the fire was at Chester. He and Brad went on to check it out and Newley and my two oldest grandsons and I stayed behind to watch some cattle sell on Superior Livestock auction that we were wanting to purchase...good thing we didn't get them! After the sale we looked out north, it looked like an atomic explosion. We jumped in the pickup and headed out. By the time we got out there it had gotten to the ranch and had burned everything in its path as the humidity was low and south winds were blowing pretty hard. We drive up and Brad and Matt are on top of a hill that overlooks the ranch and the cemetary where Brad's family are buried, they watched as flames engulfed everything ... the cemetary, grass, fences, cedar trees (which is a blessing in disquise.) I cry and Brad says, "it will all be O.K., the Lord is in control." Brad was being very cautious about sending anyone out to get the cattle. About 30 years ago he had been in a tractor that stalled in a bad fire at our Corwin ranch, he knew what it felt like to be trapped and did not want to put anyone in danger...however when Newley saw the enormity of the fire he transformed into Mighty Mouse and got in the middle of it all. He jumped into the feedtruck with Nick our hired man and headed out to try and call the cows out of the pastures. I got Trystin and Brock together and we had a prayer for them and I started driving back south away from the fire. About that time Newley calls and tells me to come back, "Take the white rock road north and help us move these cattle out." He couldn't get ahold of Brad...his cell phone is dead. To the west I see flames shooting and the smoke is terrible. I hurriedly turn back around and as I travel north I approach an intersection where there is a congregation of parked vehicles, one being a sherrif's pickup. I tell the boys to get out and get in with the sherrif. As they get out Trystin questions my decision and says, "What if they won't keep us?" I say, "JUST GET OUT AND GET IN ONE OF THOSE VEHICLES." and I drive away into the smoke. In a minute I see flashing lights and the sherrif on my tail...He stops me (in the middle of nowhere!) and tells me he has an emergency on his hands and he can't watch those boys. OH REALLY??!!!! I tell him I know there's an emergency and explain that we are trying to get our cattle out of that pasture and my son needs my help. I drive off to help Newley. The boys were safe. The other vehicles had neighbors that I knew in them. Anyway we didn't go to bed all Friday night, gathered more cattle on Saturday and helped neighbors gather theirs. Morey said there probably hasn't been this much excitement in Cheyenne Valley since the Landrun. Last night we got to come home and clean up. I've never been so glad to get a bath! Just got off the phone, and the fire is raging again. Pray for everyone involved.

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