"Mountain Memories" Page 18
My mother has told me about one fire that became a nightmare to some people and may have cost some of them their homes. Joe and Mary Miller were living in a remote section of the forest, which was not unusual. Because of his work, it was also not unusual for Joe to be away from home. The fire to which the mountaineers had paid no particular attention began to spread out over the forest until it was hopelessly out of control. The people became alarmed as it crept up to their cabin doors. Husbands and wives gathered up their children and got out of the path of the oncoming flames, leaving their homes to burn to ashes.
At first Mary Miller was unaware that any danger approached them. She was going about her daily activities, and Joe, on his job in the opposite direction of the fire, did not know that his family was in danger. Harvey Hartness, Mary's father, was at the lumber camp and heard the talk of the men with news from the front where the fire fighters were trying in vain to stop the uncontrollable fire. Harvey asked the direction in which the fire was traveling and became worried when they pointed toward his daughter's home. He wasted no time listening to the excited talk of the men but immediately set out on foot to rescue his daughter and grandchildren, knowing Joe would be at work.
As he had suspected, Mary did not know the fire was heading in that direction. They grabbed up the children and rushed back toward the camp with nothing more than the clothes on their backs. Before it was time for Joe to come home from his work he heard about the fire and the evacuation of his family, so he didn't return to his home but went to where Mary and the children were staying with her parents at the lumber camp. There was excitement and confusion, with people running and yelling here and there. Someone said a boy was lost in the fire. Mary was upset over the things she had left behind, especially a hen setting on eggs in the corner of the garden, and Stella (their little daughter) was screaming for her doll that was left in the house to burn.
Harvey and Joe talked it over and decided to return to the home place to bring out the livestock and to get the things they were in desperate need of. Mary told them to bring back Stella's doll. They left down the trail in the smoke and flying ashes and their wives watched them go, not knowing but what they would be trapped in the smoldering forest. As it turned out, the fire was brought under control before it ever reached Joe and Mary's cabin, and the lost boy was found safe.
Even though that was a bad forest fire, I remember the old people telling about another one that was worse. It was as if the forest became a volcano of fire and the roaring flames leaped from one mountain to another and licked fiery tongues around tall