“Mommy, are we going to die today?”

Heidi Lee Harless used to work for me many years ago. We are still friends and I’m proud of the work she does in our community. She wrote this post on FB on 9/14 and I cried when I read it. I got her permission to share it here and include some of the photos she took. — Jim


I took this photo of the neighborhood across the street from my home in Talent. Thousands of homes and businesses were obliterated to ash in a few hours.

We had only minutes to evacuate Tuesday. I never thought I would answer a son’s question of “Mommy, are we going to die today?” as we raced ahead of the firestorm. The answer, “Absolutely F*ING NOT!” as we prayed for safety and protection for my husband to reach us and for the survival of all. Thank goodness for those life-saving minutes of having an emergency kit packed and a knowledge of back-country roads to escape.


We feel deep honor and gratitude for all the friends and family who have reached out to us, those who prayed for us and those who sheltered us. A hot shower and a hot meal provide lasting resilience. Nothing heals and feeds the soul like being surrounded by your loved ones and knowing that you aren’t alone. We feel bittersweet sadness mixed with heartbreak to still have a home while so many have lost everything.

Last night, was our first night back. The power came on, but still no potable water or internet. We are exhausted and thankful to be in our own beds and to begin a path forward to help rebuild our community. To all those who want to help us at this point, we thank you but politely say please turn to those who lost everything….donate time, gift cards, basic needs and services, adopt a family, teacher or classroom. Help foster animals that were displaced. Help support rebuilding.


Please don’t believe those who are spreading misinformation that fires were set by Antifa. All law enforcement agencies have called this an outright lie. It is ludicrous and harmful to our first responders and survivors as they are still creating safety in our streets and recovering basic needs for our survival.


Please don’t believe those who would tell you climate change is a hoax. This fire was caused by a flicked cigarette near a bike path. In the past that may have caused a small area grass fire. This time it burned through 20 miles in several hours. It is NOT normal. 50mph winds and weeks of 100º degree temperatures created conditions never seen before in our Valley. It is the dire future of megastorms that our scientists have been warning us about.


Building Tiny Home Villages costs a small amount compared to the hundreds of millions of dollars spent fighting these fires, evacuating thousands and rebuilding entire neighborhoods and towns. Our homeless population shouldn’t be living in our Greenway bike paths and parks. It is NOT safe. Cities like Salt Lake City have shown building a Tiny House village reduces crime, life-threatening fires and provides a transition out of homelessness while allowing community resources to be used more efficiently elsewhere.


By Heidi Lee Harless 

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