Miracles save homes during Powerline fire

by Daniel Moore
Press Staff Writer

As she watched the flames come down the hill toward her house, Judi Adams said she was deciding on which color she would like her new house to be, or if they would rebuild at all.

“We stood there getting ready to watch our house burn up,” she said. “… We were pretty scared we were all going to lose our houses.”

The wind-driven Powerline Fire had started far north of the Adams house, in Arbon Valley. The Adams live in Pauline, an unincorporated community where the Arbon Valley Highway meets Bannock Highway after it makes its way over Mink Creek, in eastern Power County.

The fire was human-caused, and is under investigation. It is now entirely contained.

About 10 or so houses are in the area. The sheriff recommended evacuation, though the Adams decided to stay and see it out. They watched the fire from across the Bannock Highway, and when the fire started getting too close, they moved to the Arbon School.

Because of the strong winds and heavy smoke, firefighters could not get in with airplanes or other equipment and stop the flames from reaching the houses. Right at the last minute, the wind shifted, and planes were able to drop fire retardant near the homes, saving the houses.

“Those hot shot fire fighters, they’re good. They got to work,” Adams said.

It was a miracle, Adams said.

“The next day, a firefighter was standing in my driveway, and he said ‘those resident of Pauline must really know how to pray,’” she said.

The Power County Commissioners issued an emergency declaration for the fire on Sunday, Aug. 6. Commissioner Bill Lasley said the fire had grown too large for local resources to handle. With the emergency declaration, and with an agreement to work with other agencies, the state took over, and an experienced fire crew came in to handle the fire. It burned over 55,000 acres. The crews are working on mopping up hot spots and working to stop possible erosion in the coming days and weeks …

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