[quote_center]”If you’re out of there with your life, you’re blessed. Anything more you get, anything else, it’s that much better.” –Terry King[/quote_center]
[dropcap]M[/dropcap]ore than 10 structures were lost in the Willow Fire in the Topock/Mohave Valley area that started Saturday. Losses occurred mostly on Cheyenne Road. Fire crews are still on scene, cleaning up and watching for hot spots.
Della and Bruce Ward lost their home on Cheyenne Road. Della talked about their ordeal.
“We were coming home from Needles and saw the smoke way back there and didn’t think too much of it. We came in and noticed that the fire was getting bigger and bigger. We didn’t think of paperwork and pictures, but we thought of our animals.
[pull_quote_center]So we grabbed up our animals and on the way out … the fire was right there at that tree line. It just roared, it was humongous. It looked like two of them (fires) came together.[/pull_quote_center]
But the Wards said they feel fortunate. They bought their mobile home seven years ago, and according to Della Ward, the company has called her to offer them a replacement home.
Melanie Sprague also said she feels lucky that her home was saved. Standing at a nearby house where the homeowner put up a “Thank You” sign, Sprague praised the firefighters.
“I’m so thankful for the firefighters and the job they’re doing. We have a house in the area and it was spared. They worked really hard and I wish every time I see a fire truck go by I could give them a hug and thank them for everything they’ve done over the past few days.”
Sprague was asked if she knew anyone in the area who had lost their home.
“No, but quite a few people have; we met some people at the meetings that had said they lost their homes. Our neighbors here and some neighbors down the road a bit, we’ve all been spared. It’s just very unfortunate for the other ones that lost their homes.“
Terry “Tigger” King lost his home, but was able to load up his motorcycles to take them out. He said he and his wife have lived 10 years in Needles, and 17 years in their home that was lost.
“I had four hours (to gather belongings) because I saw it coming so I had time to get vital records, jewelry, and cash,” King said.
“My wife did her thing, I did my thing. Thank goodness I have my generator because I don’t have any power. I’m gonna be OK because I have enough foresight to rebuild or at least clean up. In time, with insurance, and I don’t know what we’ll do there, but at least we’ll get it cleaned up. I had afterthoughts: why didn’t I grab that, and why didn’t I grab that?”
But while he was searching, King found some of the things he wished he had thought of.
“If you’re out of there with your life, you’re blessed.” King added, “Anything more you get, anything else, it’s that much better.”
King was asked what he thinks the first steps after the fire should be.
“Our first thought, for myself, we have to look at cleaning up first. We have to get in here with bulldozers, backhoes, dumpsters, wheelbarrows, tools. A lot of it will have to be done at night because it’s so hot, so we’ll need generators and lights. I have neighbors who have nothing, so they’re going to need a lot of help. I’ve got a network of people that will help, so I’m OK.”
He had great praise for those who stepped in to help his community.
“The efforts of the community and the services, I can’t speak more highly of the efforts of the firefighters.”
While neighbors gathered near their homes — or where their homes used to stand — Red Cross workers were walking through the area handing out cookies and water to residents and firemen, and teddy bears to children to comfort them.
The Red Cross and Search and Rescue were on site this morning, and employees of the Mohave County Development Services, Building Department were present assessing damage. Still seen were trucks and equipment from the Surprise and Peoria Fire departments and Mohave Valley and Desert Hills Fire departments.
One bright spot in all the devastation was “the burro.” A photo of a burro that walked up to firemen and refused to leave them as they fought the fire went viral over the weekend. He has been reunited with his owner, John White, of the Topock area. The burro, along with three horses and another burro belonging to White were found Tuesday morning and are now back home.