A Safe Haven

Photo Courtesy Eddy Cohen

Labor Day 2020.

I will remember this day for the rest of my life.

Late morning a predicted and wicked wind surged through and whipped our trees, shade tent and kids’ fort, chairs on our patio spun and bucked, and tree branches cracked and plummeted to the ground.

Early morning, one of my daughters-in-law had texted me, any fires around here? I replied I had not seen any. About an hour later, she again asked the same question. So, I walked outdoors, glanced north, and gasped.

Hall Creek #incheliumcomplex

The entire hill she and my son live on was on fire. The flames were east of her but traveling west at a rapid speed. The smoke rolled over the hill like a horizontal tornado. Their house looked like it was straight in the line of fire.

I told her to pack up the kids and get to my house. Trust me, it was not a suggestion. We live across from each other, bookending our small reservation town on separate hills, and I see their place on what is called Bald Hill below Rainy Ridge.

You can imagine the speed at which my heart was racing!

Kewa #Incheliumcomplex
Kewa #Incheliumcomplex

It didn’t take them long to reach my place: my DIL, two granddaughters age 8 and 10, grandson age 2 (we had his birthday party on his birthday, 9-11, as my family was still at the house which was such a joy in times of hardship and stress), and three kittens.

My husband and two of our sons spent the night fighting fire and back-burning, which saved the house and shop. It was too close for comfort! A third son who helped my daughter-in-law pack food, photos, clothing, and important documents tried to get back up and help, but between the raging flames and heat up the draw next to the road leading to their house and a downed power line, he had to back down.

Photo Courtesy Eddy Cohen


I think I went to sleep praying for my family’s safety. Then ended up tossing and turning, praying until I’d fall asleep again.

My husband and other son stayed on a second night to make sure everything would remain standing as the blaze was still close to the house.

Click the link below and watch the actual fire near my son’s house (Video Courtesy Eddy Cohen):


Once the initial fire was contained, my son stayed home and flung dirt on hotspots for the rest of the week, saving his alfalfa plot and a couple of bales of hay.

Photo Courtesy Eddy Cohen

Thank goodness the cattle he leases on his property remained close to the house because the owner lost all of his hay, barns, equipment was damaged, and fence lines were destroyed, but his cows lived and his house is still standing.

The next day, a few other evacuees that are more like family joined us as well as our nephew-to-be who was helping to fight the fires. We had a cramped but cozy home for a couple of weeks. I’m thankful we had the room and everyone got along so well and helped each other out.

We watch, pray, and wait As our husbands and sons fight Douse blaze with valor Photo Courtesy Eddy Cohen

It was clear to me our home needed to be a safe haven.

I pray for those who have lost homes, barns, hay, pastureland, and outbuildings. Yet I do know God always brings good to what is meant for harm.

There has been an outpouring of love as folks in other towns and reservations are donating hay, clothing, and other needs for those who lost so much.

Watching the back-burn. Saving the house. Photo Courtesy Eddy Cohen

While the extra company and animals, including my niece and her 4 adorable little dogs, had completely stressed out my aged Dingo Daisy Mae, she survived and is doing well. She’s a tough little gal and is back to sleeping all day, coming with me to feed horses, and is getting back her morning spunk. Thank goodness for hemp drops!

A couple of displaced horses will remain here at the ranch until their new corrals are built.

equine safe haven
I’m thankful for spare pasture
two visitors feed


It has rained on and off for several days and has pretty much contained all three fires (Kewa, Fry, and Hall Creek) known as the “Inchelium Complex Fire.”

We are now riding horses in cleaner air and blue skies, and it feels refreshing. Hard times have a way of making a person appreciate normal, don’t you think?

I’m thankful for so much and continue to pray for those still affected.

scorched draw at bald hill
heat continues to smolder
ash inches cover

Be safe. Be healthy. Be happy.

There’s always hope.

How are things in your neck of the woods?

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  1. Oh, Carmen, what a tremendous thing to go through!!!! I hope you and yours are doing better each day.

    1. Carmen Peone says:

      Thank you, C.M. We are doing well. The threat is gone, but tribal firefighters are keeping a close eye on everything as this weekend and week are warm. Thank you for thinking of us. How are things in your area?

        1. Carmen Peone says:

          Good news! Happy Writing.

  2. Reading this takes me back to our fires in 2017 driving thru flames to rescue my horses. It is a terror that you never forget! And now my home area is still going thru it. I don’t regret moving to Idaho at all this time of year. Hugs to your whole family!

    1. Carmen Peone says:

      Thanks, Roni! It is scary. I’m glad you were able to get your horses to safety. I’m glad you moved closer too! Now, to hook up and meet up. That will be fun!

      1. Roni McFadden says:

        Looking forward to it!

  3. Yikes! What a scary time for you and your family. Quick thinking sure saved the day for your family. I’m sure you have special thoughts and prayers for those in fire areas. It is awful, and undoubtedly not going to get better without definitive action.

    1. Carmen Peone says:

      Mary, it was scary. For the most part, it’s all out and the fire camp has cleared out. Tribal firefighters continue to monitor the burns just in case. It’s been warm over the weekend, but all is well.