Fire on the horizon

Teacher evacuates fire, pets are safe

Rhys Cadwallader

Smoke billowed in the sky on Oct. 17. Ash rained down from the dark cloud. Language arts and social studies teacher Lindsey Olson and her husband raced home, only to be blocked by the police.

They couldn’t go back to their house unless they wanted to risk being caught in the flames of the CalWood fire.

“Being able to see the flames and the smoke behind the house, and that they weren’t going to let me get back and try to help, I was ready to tell the police, ‘Get out of my way. I’ll walk there if I have to,’” she said.

Olson felt motivated with the thoughts of her cat and dog still at home, and she couldn’t forget the books for her 7-month-old daughter.

“I think [the scariest part] was really when the police stopped us at the road and said we couldn’t get through, and I was thinking about my pets possibly dying,” she said.

She evacuated from her home in Boulder when the fire nearly burned it to the ground. She said that’s exactly what happened to her neighbor’s home just two houses down the street.

“[The neighbor’s] safe where they kept all their court documents and extra money in burnt. We’re very, very, very, very, very lucky because had [the firefighters] been there five minutes later the house could’ve burned down,” Olson said.

The firefighter’s efforts kept her house from being reduced to ash. The fence posts and trees in front of her house charred, but she estimates a radius of around three feet from her house where the firefighter’s hoses kept the fire at bay after she had retrieved her pets and necessary items from her house.

“It’s interesting in those moments what you think about and what you don’t think about,” Olson said. “We forgot about a lot of our day-to-day, like we didn’t grab a toothbrush and I was like ‘Oh I need one of those!’ But we grabbed the important stuff and made sure everyone was safe.”

This frightening experience ends on a happy note: everyone in the neighborhood safely evacuated. Every person and pet escaped the fire.

“The neighbors up the street, they had pet bunnies in the backyard and even the bunnies got out,” Olson said.