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had to bug out due to forest fire

Discussion in 'Survival/Preparedness Forum' started by Mountain10mm, Mar 30, 2012.

  1. Mountain10mm


    Dec 14, 2007
    We just had to bug out due to a mandatory evacuation for a forest fire in our area (SW of Denver, CO). Our house is OK, but we are still on high alert and could be re-evacuated at any time – without warning. Here's what I learned.

    I like to think of myself as relatively well prepared, and I think we were, but there's room for improvement.

    1. Have a list of what you need/want to pack. We did and it was awesome. My wife even said she was incredibly scatterbrained while we were being rushed out of the house and would have forgotten several important things without the list.
    2. Break down the list into 5 minute, 15 minute, 1 hour, etc. of things to grab given the aforementioned amount of time. E.g. don't spend all your time grabbing work clothes if you only have 5 minutes warning.
    3. Besides the obvious photos, insurance documents, hard drive, jewelry, guns, heirlooms, etc. grab enough clothes/tools/files/etc. to go back to work for at least a few days. Seriously, no one else except the other evacuees and a few caring locals gives a ***** about your situation. The last thing we wanted to grab was work stuff considering the circumstances (and we didn't grab any of it), but without work we quickly realized neither of us had a way to make a living and rebuild if we had to. I know insurance would help, but that doesn't happen overnight when your boss calls and wants to know if you're going to make the meeting the next day - never mind you might not have a home anymore.
    4. When you grab your laptops, hard drives, etc. bring the power cables. You think no-brainer, but you also think I can get a power cord anywhere don't want to waste time with it. Grab the cords. Chances are you will need to access something on your computer while you are sitting it out.
    5. Have a plan. We did except for our large animals. Our plan worked well in terms of family, possessions, living quarters, vehicles, but it did not include our four large animals...and all we had was a two horse trailer. (We are working on that plan now.)
    6. Do not think your BOB will suffice. It won't.
    7. Have a light heart, there's nothing we could do to stop a forest fire.
    8. If money permits, I'd like to build a fireproof shelter on our property to avoid having to bring EVERYTHING with us while trying to save our lives. If you are building a new house, talk to the engineer/architect about adding a fireproof/hurricane/tornado/bullet proof room as part of the design. It would be priceless should the disaster ever happen.
    9. No matter how many trees you cut down around your house - fire will find it. Sprinkler systems and garden hoses are worthless for forest fires.
    10. Have a gas mask rated for heat and smoke for at least the driver of the get-away car. Several drivers in our area when into the ditch because they couldn't see as they were leaving because the smoke was so thick. I'm speculating, but I think they panicked. Most roads here have fart bumps down the middle and if they kept the tire on the bumps, they would have been able to "hear" their way down the road. Having a mask would have offered comfort that they didn't have to drive 40mph to escape. The heat wasn't an issue at that point for them. (Even some Sheriff's cars went into the ditch.)
    11. Have a portable scanner. We didn't, but I'm getting one in the very near future. Once you leave your house, you're at the mercy of public radio to get info. It's worthless. The local Sheriff said they were putting stuff on their website, twitter, the local news, and even had public informants in key areas. Well, unless you walk around with a super-secret advanced phone/laptop that gets wi-fi in rural areas (where forest fires are) you're kinda screwed in the high-tech information area. The local informant we spoke with had information that was sometimes 18 hours old. Worthless for the most part. If you have the ability to bug out where there is internet, power, and TV, do it. It's such a joke when they say have a portable AM/FM radio. I might as well had a pet brick. I heard more info. on my portable HAM radio in 30 minutes than I did on AM/FM radio for 4 days.
    12. Have multiple ways to be in communication with your significant others. Our cells phones worked great (Thank God), but we also had some FRS portable radios as plan B - which we didn't need.
    13. Food. If you can bring some food, water, and even a few beers for the first night do it. It's chaos and going to a restaurant isn't an option. If you have kids, food/milk NEEDS to be at the top of the list. When you finally have a place to sit down, having the ability to eat something is great. Having a beer was even more priceless. At that point dwelling on the situation was futile and demoralizing.
    14. Pray.
  2. Javelin

    Javelin Got Glock? Silver Member

    Feb 9, 2008
    N. Dallas
    Good write up.

    I did think of this guy however. He packed lots of diet cokes.



  3. Aceman


    Nov 30, 2008
    I always love a good post disaster debrief w/ a happy ending!

    Umm - please define "large animal" for us...
  4. SilverCity


    Mar 9, 2007
    The Old West
    Wife and I are staying in Denver for awhile and we sure choked on all that smoke. Woke up with eyes burning. Real bad on Sunday...thick as fog.

    Glad you are okay.

    Last edited: Mar 30, 2012
  5. cowboy1964


    Sep 4, 2009
    I've seen that pic before but not with the fat guy in the background photoshopped in.
  6. Bolster

    Bolster Not Ready Yet!

    Jul 23, 2011
    State of Stupidity
    Outstanding post.

    Girlfriend (who became Mrs Bolster) survived the loss of her house to fire, and she would ditto many of your recommendations.

    You put "have a list" at #1 and that would be her #1 also. Her whole family experienced the near complete shutdown of rational thought in the 5 minutes it too them to get out the door, and they saved a lot of the "wrong stuff" and left a lot of the "right stuff" behind.

    Another very painful moment was when the local volunteer fire squad leader told them not to re-enter the house, and they had another 10 minutes before any part of it caught fire...10 precious minutes gone forever, while they stood their and waited for the fire to approach closer...but they followed the instructions of the know-nothing authoritative shouting doofus in charge who was acting out of an excess of caution, inexperience, bravado, and self-preservation. Do what you know is the right thing to do (in this case, enter a single-story house that's not on fire to retrieve important items), and screw the "local authority" who's primary concern is to save his own arse if something goes wrong. You can always ask for forgiveness later.

    They've been kicking themselves for 10 years for leaving the family photo album in the closet.
    Last edited: Mar 30, 2012
  7. Glocktastic


    Sep 25, 2008
    Awesome post. Glad to hear you made it out ok.
  8. coastal4974


    Nov 2, 2009
    That must have been an quite an experience, glad it turned out okay for you.

    Thank you very much for that detailed list! You’ve given me some great ideas.

    In my area we are prone fires and extreme weather, I would rather have to bug out for weather than fire. There is far too many things I could not part with to leave behind to be lost. I don’t know how I’ll do it, I can only hope that day never comes.
  9. NecoDude


    Mar 22, 2011
    No Name City...
    Glad that everything is so far so good with you. Great post and gives food for thought.

    Take care and stay safe.
  10. Tom Kanik

    Tom Kanik

    Sep 6, 2005
    S.W. Missouri
    A big +1 to what Neco said!
    Last edited: Mar 31, 2012
  11. TangoFoxtrot

    TangoFoxtrot OIF 04-05

    Sep 10, 2008
    Nowhereville, USA
    Hey Mountain10mm glad you and the wife are ok and your home survived.
  12. rotjovi


    Dec 1, 2011
    I'm finally going to act after this post and spend a weekend putting all important photos and documents on a USB drive. Taking pics out of the frames will be time consuming. I'm the only prepper of the house, so I'm on my own for this............

    "Ahh, nothing's ever going to happen. That's a waste of time."

    Yeah, right....
    "Look the bull in the ass and laugh!"
  13. ancient_serpent


    Jun 6, 2008
    Thank you for posting this up. I just finished a list a few minutes ago. I hope I never need it, but thank you for posting yoru experience here so that we could learn from it. All the best-A.S.
  14. The horses are always the biggest problem.
  15. Great checklist. I went through the warning phase during the big Conifer/Bailey fires in the mid 90s when I lived in south Evergreen, near Marshdale. Only problem then was I was out of town on a business trip and had no idea what was going on until the now ex-wife called and asked me what to take if she had to bug out. I had no idea what was going on until she told me to turn on cable news. That was an eye opener.
  16. jmohme


    Jan 3, 2012
    Bastrop Texas
    My wife and I went through the same thing last summer in Texas. We were only a mile and a half from where the fires started and had minutes to evacuate.
    We grabed bare essentials, pets, and computers and headed out the door. Fortunately, we had just returned from a photo event, and had our photography trailer hitched to the truck so we had room for the dogs.
  17. crnama

    crnama CLM

    Jan 29, 2002
    Madison, Al
    Would you mind posting your 5min, 15min, 1hour list to share with the rest of us.
  18. Bolster

    Bolster Not Ready Yet!

    Jul 23, 2011
    State of Stupidity
    I have several empty "Grab Buckets" stacked, with their contents to be put in at the last minute, and the contents list pasted to the outside. One for each person in the family. The contents are listed in order of importance. We've practiced filling the buckets in 3 minutes. I have now modified their lists based on this posting.

    1. I had failed to specify 'power supply' along with the computers.
    2. Also I'm making a custom B.O.DVD to contain essential documents/photos.
    3. I'd failed to put the scanner on the short list of necessary items.

    Thanks again Mountain-10

    Ditto that.
    Last edited: Apr 1, 2012
  19. Aceman


    Nov 30, 2008
    Gotta love the hurricane....DAYS of advanced warning.