Following a mandatory evacuation notice issued to the Cold Springs area on Aug. 16, residents were finally allowed to return to their homes on Wednesday afternoon.
Diana Hewett was one of the evacuees who were forced to flee their homes. Hewett told the Idaho Mountain Express that after having evacuated as a result of the 2007 Castle Rock Fire, she really had a much better idea of what possessions were truly important to her.
While Hewett was concerned for her own safety, she was also deeply concerned for the animals at the Sun Valley Animal Center. Working as a receptionist there since January, Hewett said she immediately went to the center as soon as she packed up her belongings to help with the evacuation.
“During the evacuation, it was very important to keep the pets calm and settled,” Hewett said. “When you’re loading them up, you want to keep calm so they don’t read your anxiousness.”
Both Hewett and fellow receptionist Sue Acker emphasized their satisfaction with how efficient the process was for evacuating the 50 dogs and 15 cats at the animal hospital and boarding facility. The pets were evacuated to Sawtooth Animal Center in Bellevue.
Acker said Sawtooth’s preparedness for the situation amazed her. Concerned with how many kennels and crates would be available, Acker was relieved to see there was actually a surplus of kennels available with water and food for the animals.
“The process went down very smoothly; the animals seem to know when there’s something going on,” she said. “There were no fights between animals, since they were all evacuated by their playgroups.”
Sun Valley Animal Center’s kennel manager Betsy Kauder said the four-hour-long process to evacuate the animals went off without a major hitch because there was a specific system set forth for the evacuation process with all of the necessary precautions.
“When you’ve evacuated before, you’re not as stressed,” Kauder said.
One evacuee who was more stressed about leaving Cold Springs a second time since 2007 was Beatriz Garcia. Garcia, who works at Bigwood Bread in Ketchum, said she was more worried about leaving her home this time around because she now has a son to care for.
“I was working on Friday when my mom called me at 1 p.m. to tell me we have a mandatory evacuation,” Garcia said. “Once it was over, it felt really good to be home. We’re still scared because we still see so much smoke coming from the mountains.”
Suspecting that a mandatory evacuation for Cold Springs was imminent, eventual evacuee Treavor Mattison closely monitored Twitter on Friday. As a result, he learned of the mandatory evacuation before the formal alert was sent out.
“I grabbed everything I couldn’t live without, put it in the truck and then hit the road,” Mattison said,
He said he monitors the fire closely on social media because—as a fitter and inspector for a sprinkler business—he is under pressure to get nearby schools back in service.
“Basically, I’m glad that I can keep working and that I’m out of danger,” he said.
Eric Avissar: email@example.com