Okay….. the big fire of March 6 came to close for comfort, but was still about a mile or a little less away from our home. But we were lucky compared to the people in the Highlands and some north of 82nd on Plum. Monday March 6, will be remembered for a long time by most of us North of Hutchinson.
On Tuesday around lunch time we decided (since the sun was out, the wind was not blowing, the black hawk helicopters were not flying around our area and we couldn’t smell or see any smoke from our house on Monroe,) we’d go to town.
First we drove through the Highlands (2 miles north of us) to see how bad it was. I couldn’t believe they only lost a few houses that sat on the edge of the addition. Almost every house that we drove by on the South and West of the area had burned grass all the way to the porch or house.
They were very lucky and had the help of some really good firefighters who kept their homes from burning. I was surprised that it could get that close and not burn the house. I was relieved to see they managed to keep so many homes from burning.
After driving through the Highlands we drove back down Monroe to Hutchinson. When we arrived in town there had been no police on Monroe Street at any of the intersections so we thought the evacuation had been lifted.
I had two alerts on the phone for the Evacuation but did not get any for the all clear. It would be great to get one to tell you that it was safe to leave your home and go about normal activities.
We were in town about an hour. When we came back up Monroe we were stopped at 43rd by an out of town policeman. We told him we lived on North Monroe and we were headed home. He thought we had evacuated the night before I think and said he couldn’t let us go home. But he said we could go check if they were letting people through on Hendricks (west of Monroe).
So we turned around and drove back to 30th Street, across to Hendricks and then north to 43rd. When we arrived there we were met by a highway patrolman and he said that we couldn’t go up Hendricks and go home from there.
The highway patrol told us to go back to Monroe. We said we just came from there. He talked to another man and then told us that they were arranging to have someone escort homeowners home. So we drove back to 30th, across to Monroe, then back north to 43rd again.
The same guy was there when we arrived. I motioned to him to come to the car and I told him the highway patrol on Hendricks told us to come back over to Monroe and they would get someone to escort us back to the house.
The man on Monroe said the reason they didn’t want anyone back in the area when they left the house was to protect from looters. We thought we could protect the house from looters better being at home. They didn’t ask for ID to see our address and who we were so they knew we were in fact homeowners.
The policeman on Monroe then told us to get in line on the dirt road (43rd heading west) behind a pickup. So we drove onto the dirt road and turned around and got behind the pickup. In a few minutes one of the sheriffs motioned for the two of us to follow him.
We started up Monroe and the pickup pulled ahead of the sheriff and led us up Monroe. I guess he was to lead the sheriff to his house. We didn’t know if we were to follow him to that guy’s house or not, we were not given any instructions. We followed them all the way to the south entrance of Moroccan Heights.
The pickup turned off there and the sheriff followed him, I guess they wanted to know that the house was secure when they let him back in. Not sure if they intended for him to get what he wanted and leave with the sheriff or if he could stay home. We hesitated at the intersection but didn’t see a signal from the sheriff to follow him so we came on home. We decided to stay home and did not leave again for two days.
This was our first experience in an evacuation situation and we didn’t have any idea what we were expected to do if we wanted to go to town and then back home. We figured it was okay to leave the house and go to town, but we didn’t know we would have so much trouble getting back home the day after the big fire was out. To contact Sandy: [email protected]