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Firestorm

The frog fountain before the fire
One week ago the Top of the Hill RV Resort that we now call home became of the victim of a careless fool who went down the highway with a BBQ pit in the back of his pick up that the coals were still lit in. The burning coals blew out as he was driving down the road, and caused a wildfire that nearly consumed us all. As it was, we did lose all the pavilion area, the pool, the laundry room, and 6 RVs that were on the very top of the hill. The good news there was no loss of life or injuries from the fire. The owners and management here intend to rebuild. Some of those who had RV homes here that were lost will be replacing them and coming back here. The following is from the pages of my diary. It is the story of that fire, and the continuing story of the aftermath of that fire.

I am including some photos along with the story so that those reading it can truly see just how much damage was done by the fire that swept through last Sunday afternoon. The first two photos show the porch area and frog fountain are some I took a few days before the fire. I spent so much time sitting on that beautiful back porch and listening to the sound of the frog fountain I thought getting a picture of it to include in my personal photo album would be good. I am so very glad I have these photos that show some of the original ranch buildings that once made up the pavilion area.


Tuesday, June 21, 2011

The back porch area before the fire

The smell of smoke from Sunday's firestorm still fills the air around us. The once beautiful top of the hill area now looks like a war zone. Burnt rubble that was once the laundry, pool, fountain, and the rest of the main pavilion area, as well as 6 of my neighbors RV homes bears mute testimony to the devastating fire that consumed them.

The porch area after the fire


I never dreamed I was about come face to face with a wall of fire when I put on my new hot pink swim suit and headed to the pool Sunday afternoon. But the moment I stepped out the door I knew that heavy smoke I smelled wasn't coming from a BBQ pit. As I backed the Club Car up and looked up to my right I saw the smoke billowing up. Instead of heading for the pool I went to investigate the source of all that billowing smoke.

The pool area

I discovered A fire that had started in the middle of the highway below us had jumped the road and was now headed towards us. I dialed the office on the cellphone to let them know we had a fire headed our way and ash from it was already falling in the park.

What’s left of a neighbor’s once beautiful Fusion RV

I headed back to the other side of the park and stopped at Odel's place to start wetting it down until she could get away from the office. Odel arrived within a few minutes and took the hose from my hand. She had barely begun spraying when the fire jumped from a falling ember was now far too close for comfort. Odel handed me the hose and walked a feet up the road. Then ran back down frantically saying, "I've got to move! I've got to move!" I stared in amazement and replied, "You will never get unhooked and ready to roll in time." It was at that point I heard an explosion. I turned towards the sound of the explosion and found myself face to face with a wall of fire. When I looked back Odel had vanished. Later I found out she had jumped in her car and was frantically helping Kane and the other camp workers get people evacuated.

I started backpedaling like crazy away from the wall of fire, jumped in the Club Car, hit the reverse button on it and put the pedal to the metal. When I reached our RV I jumped out, opened the door and yelled for Larry to get out to the truck because we were going to have to leave. At that point a police car came over the hill with officer on the speaker horn ordering the evacuation of the park. I grabbed the computers, the lockbox, and a couple of other items, and we headed out of the park.

As I looked back on the fire blazing behind me, my heart sank. I just knew Odel's place was about to go up in smoke, and more than likely, ours would be doing the same shortly after that. I reminded myself if worse came to worse, we had insurance.

We spent the next several hours sitting in the truck waiting to see just how bad things were going to get. At times being told we would have to move farther down the road because the fire was still spreading. We saw several of our neighbors in the caravan of cars and trucks lining the sides of the road as refugees from that wildfire waited to see if they had homes to return to.

By days end we knew our rig was okay, as was Odel's and the rest of the RVs on this level of the tier. Though it was heartbreaking to hear we had lost 6 RVs and all the pavilion buildings on the very top of the hill. Those of us who still had homes could return to them that night only long enough to grab necessary medication and what ever else you could snatch up in one quick swoop through the RV. Monday morning we were allowed to return to our homes.

Do we stay? Or do we temporarily go to another park until full amenities are restored here? One part of me says stay and watch the rebirth of the park. Another part of me says head for somewhere with laundry facilities and a pool!

I've been told they may start clearing the rubble away tomorrow, and that temporary buildings will soon house laundry facilities as well as public restrooms and showers.

As the clock strikes 12:00 a.m., I hear the sound of rain beginning to fall. Perhaps falling to sleep to the sound of that rain will chase away the fire nightmares I've been having since Sunday night.

Wednesday June 22, 2011

We got a good rain last night and that has helped remove the ash and smoke smell from air. I sat out under the 5th wheel this morning enjoying the cool air and what is left of the view. It's heartbreaking to see some of the trees that were once so beautiful in the condition they are now. But, there are still enough trees left unscathed by Sunday's fire to make the view enjoyable. After taking a closer look at some of those trees I realized though they are badly scorched, the tops of some of them are still green. Perhaps they will survive and come back next spring.

The scuttlebutt is that the rubble should be cleared off the top of the hill this weekend and that next week they will be putting up temporary buildings to provide us with laundry facilities as well as public showers and restrooms. The showers and restrooms are no biggie to us since the Cyclone has the mega shower that more than takes care of our bathing needs. I will be glad to get laundry facilities back though! We will have to go in to Boerne today or tomorrow and do some laundry. Hopefully this will only be a one time thing if they get the temporary laundry facilities up next week.

I've also been told they are going to put a new liner in the pool and get it up and running again very soon. I am so hoping this is true. If they can get us some laundry facilities and a pool within a couple of weeks, then we are going to stay here. There are nicer places right now we could go to and actually wind up saving on the rent if we did. But as nice and economical as those places are, they aren't home to us.

Bandera and Kerrville are both nice towns, but we have learned our way around Boerne, and come to love the town and its people. Those people made us feel welcome and truly wanted in their community from our first visit here. Those people have also been very quick to offer a helping hand to those here at the park who need it.

Right now helping each other out here is what it's all about. And those of us here at the park who still have homes are doing what we can to help our neighbors who have lost everything. Most had insurance and just need some emotional support right now. But a few didn't have insurance and so they are truly in dire straights right now.

Thursday June 23, 2011

I was up at the crack of dawn again this morning. I slept better last night though, and had no bad firestorm nightmares. The weather right now is foggy and cool with a small chance for more rain. Next week the chances for rain look fairly good. Rain right now is what we desperately need to help reduce the possibility of more fires.

After my morning shower I put on one of the new sun dresses I got last week. It's a great moral booster right now to slip it on and feel oh so pretty and feminine. Though there is also a slight sense of survivor guilt for having it to put on when I go up the top of the hill and see the rubble of 6 of my neighbors RVs.

Later this afternoon I slipped out of the sundress and into some shorts and an old t-shirt and enlarged the circle of stones around one of the two trees we have at our space. I'm going to plant some flowers around that tree soon. I was thinking of doing that before Sunday's firestorm because I spend so much time out there watching the humming birds. With so much devastation still around us I need to make our spot as nice as possible right now.

Saturday June 25, 2001


I spent the morning gathering rocks from all around the park, including a few blackened ones from the pavilion area, as well as from the area the RVs burned in. Those blackened rocks will serve as reminders of the firestorm we went through last Sunday.

When I took the cleaning crew their daily jug of lemonade, I took a couple of shots of them clearing the burnt rubble of one of my neighbors RV. The bobcat in that picture belongs to another neighbor who was fortunate enough to have his RV survive the fire fully intact. He is donating that little cat and his time today to help clear the rubble away.

Everyone here who has opted to stay is pulling together and doing whatever we can to help our neighbors, and the park itself return to normal. My daily delivery of ice cold lemonade to the crew helping remove the rubble is the least I can do.

After wetting the area around it down good, and making sure the hose was handy just in case, I lit the little Fire King gas grill this evening and fixed a couple of Texas Griller Steaks from HEB. It felt good to be out enjoying the grill again. Served with a nice salad the steaks made a wonderful meal.

After the dishes and grill were cleaned up I sat and watched the sunset. The view, despite the burnt area in front of it is still beautiful. I'm glad we opted to stay here. I find myself truly appreciating what we do have left, and eagerly awaiting the rebirth of the pavilion area.




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