Posted: Aug 16, 2012 7:14 AM by Dennis Bragg - KPAX News
Updated: Aug 16, 2012 11:15 AM
POLSON- Residents living on ranch lands northwest of Polson are very happy to see the West Garceau Fire calming down, after 48 hours of worry and the fear of an approaching wildfire.
It's been a "nerve-racking" few days for rancher Mark Vrooman and his neighbors in the Irvine Flats area as they watched flames come down the hillside into their normally quiet corner of Lake County.
"You could see the trees just flaming and flaring up in there. And it was a pretty intense fire," rancher Mark Vrooman recalled.
Even on Wednesday afternoon, the proximity and intensity of the blaze was still disconcerting, especially given the fact that all that was between Vrooman's place and the fire was open grasslands, and some carefully placed sprinklers.
The Irvine Flats might not look like your typical neighborhood, but out here the principle of neighboring helping neighbor is what can save property, and even save lives.
It's been five years since fire threatened this same valley, and residents have their evacuation plans in place. Vrooman's pickup is still full of his neighbor's keepsakes.
"All their pictures in there. She's been through the fire before. She knows what's going on. Sue had all her treasure boxes with her kids' name on them and everything. We just got those out of their house really, really quick, put them in here and got them out of the danger," Vrooman told us.
Neighbors also moved livestock and pets to keep animals safe, turning part of their attention from their own welfare to keeping others out of the inferno's path.
"I just was thinking, geez I've got to help my neighbors. You know we're the last refuge kind of here, before you know, town. You just kind of scramble and try to call everybody and see what you can do and help out as much as you can. And hope nobody, firefighters, or nobody gets hurt," Vrooman told us.
Vrooman won't forget this week's adventures, re-enforcing the importance of preparedness... and helping others in times of crisis.