Lea Ellen Loving: Grateful to be alive | TheUnion.com

Lea Ellen Loving: Grateful to be alive

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Lea Ellen Loving

On the morning of Oct. 9 I woke for no apparent reason at 4 a.m. in Rough and Ready.

Smelling smoke, I tried to turn on the lights — but there were no lights.

Opening my little trailer door, I saw my neighbors' yard ablaze, with the wind pushing the flames, sparks and embers into our yard. I could hear the loud popping of trees exploding, and perhaps propane tanks.

My Red Cross flashlight, which sat in a wall plug, came on when the power went out. That little item possibly saved my life, and certainly helped me find my purse, car keys and little dog. Thankfully, I saw my 94-year-old landlady in her car heading out the driveway. Following her out, we drove through dense smoke, unable to see, though we knew our road well enough to get to the main road. There, large trees were fully ablaze, brush was burning, and the fire was jumping the road.

With all the divisiveness in our world today, these tragedies bring us together in our common humanity.

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As we joined our neighbors driving out, fire trucks were coming in.

We had no advance notice. We did have defensible space, but nothing was stopping that windswept fire.

Many of us gathered across the street from the Rough and Ready Fire Department shocked, cold and barely clothed. The good folks at the fire department made us coffee and let us use their facilities and charge our cell phones. Thank you all for making us feel at home in your house! The kind people at the little Rough and Ready Chapel had no power but fired up a camp stove for food, coffee and tea. Thanks so much to the fellow there who gave me his slippers!

Thankfully, there was no loss of human life. Our homes did not make it. Sadly, I lost my little dog Booger and my bunny Foo-Foo. Rest in peace, little friends.

I have so many people to thank. The folks at the Salvation Army listened to my story, let me cry, calmed me down, and gave me food and toiletries. My many generous friends and family took me in, gathered clothes and offered support. The folks at Diego's fed me wonderful pumpkin soup. The kind lady at the Family Resource Center gave me $20. A local merchant gave me a blanket. My friend set up a GoFundMe page under the heading "Grateful to Be Alive."

And I am grateful to be alive. Extremely grateful! So many are facing such loss right now. With all the divisiveness in our world today, these tragedies bring us together in our common humanity.

For those of us who live in fire-prone areas, I strongly suggest you invest in a safe deposit box for your valuable papers. It's not that expensive. Also, please acquaint yourself with Nevada County's Fire Safe Council. This thoughtful, committed group offers valuable advice and has trained personnel to visit your home and assess your fire-readiness. They can be reached at 530-272-1122 or at areyoufiresafe.com.

And please, please use common sense. Refrain from lighting burn piles, clean your roof before you begin using your wood stove, and don't smoke or build campfires in the woods. We're not out of the fire season yet. Let's be spared any further disasters!

Thanks again to our brave firefighters, the Red Cross, the Salvation Army, FEMA and the many kind, generous folks in our community.

Lea Ellen Loving lives in Rough and Ready.

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