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Produced & Maintained by Idaho Mountain Express, Box 1013, Ketchum, ID 83340-1013 
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Copyright © 2001 Express Publishing Inc.
All Rights reserved. Reproduction in whole or in part in any form or medium without express written permission of Express Publishing Inc. is prohibited. 


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For the week of August 22 - 28, 2001


called heroes

Grateful Triumph residents 
give praise, thanks

Express Staff Writer

The much used and abused word "awesome" became fresh and new last week.

It was the word resident after resident used to describe the firefighters who saved their homes Aug. 12 from a roaring wildfire.

Two firefighters take a break Aug. 12 with a newfound furry friend in Triumph to remember why they work the fire lines. Photo by Sally Raabe

On that Sunday, the wildfire took off from the hillside above the portal to the Triumph Mine and, within minutes, threatened the homes below it.

Realizing how close they came to losing their homes and everything they owned, many are giving thanks well before Thanksgiving Day this year.

"I think I said ‘Thank you’ a hundred times," said Mary Kelsey. "I waved and cheered. There must be some way to let them know how great they are."

She especially remembers how calm and reassuring the firefighters in her driveway were. They were the only thing between the wildfire and her home.

She doesn’t know their names, but she remembers her relief when one of them said flatly, "You are not going to lose your home."

"I cannot really say enough," she said. "It was a horrific, scary thing, and here were these guys, calm and confident."

Debbie Tucker said once she felt the fire danger to her house had passed, she started watching the firefighters going about their jobs.

"The danger involved in doing their jobs, and what they had to do wearing all that gear in that heat¾ they were incredible, and I am extremely grateful," she said.

Sally Raabe agreed. "It was really shocking. I didn’t think at the time that it’d bother me as much as it did.

"The fire came rolling down the hill like a ball. If the firefighters had not responded as fast as they did, our houses would all be gone."

Raabe said she had never seen anything so unselfish as when the firefighters went into action.

"They were so efficient, so totally caring. I have never seen anything like it. With all that heavy equipment and all that weight, up they went to follow the line," she said.

Raabe said she was alerted to the fire by neighbor Gordon Williams, and when she looked out, she saw the fire "just racing down the mountain" toward her home.

After she gathered up her photo albums, threw them in her car, and drove it a safe distance away from the house, she and her husband, Ken, got on bikes to race over to the Kelsey home. That’s where the fire was heading by that time.

They got there in time to hear firefighters shout, "You guys below, duck!"

"We ran to the shed," Mary Kelsey said, to take cover from the retardant being dropped between the fire and the Kelsey home. "It was like a red rainstorm."

Kelsey, her husband, Richard, and the Raabes then turned their attention to the nearby house of Chris Klick.

When Sally Raabe tried to enter Klick’s home through the front door, Klick’s normally mellow dog, Dude, turned ferocious and wouldn’t let her in.

Undeterred, Sally went in the back door and rescued photo albums while Mary kept Dude distracted. Dude was then "lassoed" by Richard Kelsey and taken to safety.

Then, after doing all they could do to ensure the safety of their possessions, family and pets, they did like Tucker. They watched the incredible work of the firefighters.

In a letter to the editor, Triumph resident Wendy Collins commended the firefighters, in the sky and on the ground, for their skill, professionalism bravery and kindness.

"You are truly awesome," she wrote.

Truly awe inspiring, nothing trite about it.

The Idaho Mountain Express is distributed free to residents and guests throughout the Sun Valley, Idaho resort area community. Subscribers to the Idaho Mountain Express will read these stories and others in this week's issue.