Walland residents cope with living in the fire zone

Residents in the fire zone react to days of waiting and fire crews assistance

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WALLAND (WATE) – Statistics and acre size aside, Walland residents in the fire zone have not had it easy in the last few days. Evacuations were suggested, some in the first few hours of the fire, but most residents went back to their homes and have continued to watch the fire burn in their backyards.

“You don’t expect it to be like this, you don’t. It spread the way it did so fast. Nobody expected it. I didn’t,” said Janet Lail.

Lail did not have any property damage from the fire, but she smells smoke every morning. From her backyard, she could see flames Thursday and Friday. When she was first notified, she took a hose around the barn in her yard to water her entire yard.

Previous story: FEMA authorizes federal funds to help fight Walland fire

She said, “I was concerned because we have a lot of equipment out here, a lot of wood… leaves.”

Up the hill, Lail’s neighbors were more severely affected by the fire. Laural Jenkins spent the last two nights watching out her window to make sure small embers did not turn into the flames that surrounded her home Friday and Saturday nights.

“It was like something you see in a movie, it just seemed unreal. The noise that it made, when it came over. My husband was outside when embers were coming and falling and he said there were pieces of wood almost the size of your arm. It was almost like it was not there then it was everywhere,” Jenkins said.

Monday firefighters were driving water from a nearby well to the Jenkins property to continue to treat fires that had the potential to start again. Charred black ground and tree trunks surround the Jenkins home, but the house itself has not been damaged.

Jenkins said, “It’s been a rough few days just…uncertainty. When it happened and we initially had to leave we weren’t sure if we were gonna have a home to come back to.”

Even with 75 percent containment, both neighbors say they are not relieved just yet. The smoke in the air still makes it difficult to breathe, but also, any changes in weather could change the situation at any moment. What they both say: the firefighters have been incredible.

Jenkins said, “They [firefighters] told us quite a few times if you see anything that you can throw a rock to, you need to tell us. There have been quite a few times, like yesterday in the back here.”

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