This morning, close to the flames, I watch as an American flag dances in the wind just outside my bedroom window. I glance out the window every few seconds to ensure the direction it waves is away from my home. It tells me more than just how grateful I am for people who serve. It also tells me about the encroaching fire.

Facing a Nearby Threat: My Encounter with Evacuation

Yesterday, as I dived deep into my work and thought about my upcoming doctoral journey, something unexpected caught me off guard. While engrossed in my Kindle book, I caught the unmistakable aroma of smoke and I felt a gurgling in my lungs. When I stood up and looked out the window, a thick haze had begun to fill the sky and was creeping over the nearby hills.

Transitioning to an Online Investigation

I quickly searched the internet for answers. The top results shocked me: Medical Lake, a town close by, was evacuating. At first, it felt like a distant concern, but the loud local alerts quickly made it feel immediate and pressing. On my quiet street, there was increased traffic. Some were travel trailers.

Navigating the Digital Labyrinth

I sifted through numerous sources and outlets, but finding up-to-date information felt like navigating a maze. I explored various platforms and even called emergency services directly, but I couldn’t get a clear answer. After dialing 911, they gave me straightforward advice: evacuate. I was in a level 3 zone, “leave now.” I could see a faint, ominous red glow in the distance, silently warning me of the approaching danger as the sun set, and the night settled in.

The Winds of Change Beckon

This sudden change forced me to act quickly. Still recovering from hip surgery, the idea of packing overwhelmed me. Yet, the imminent danger, combined with my fresh memories of settling in, made the need to move even more pressing. I had just unpacked the last of my clothes the night before. Those same clothes were now going back into my travel case.

Tapping into Digital Communities

Despite not receiving any official updates, I found a silver lining. Surprisingly, I turned to online communities, particularly Facebook groups, for the most timely information. My fellow users not only updated me but also shared invaluable advice and support.

The Quiet Wait and Watch

We chose not to leave. The winds looked like they shifted. I woke many times through the night to check on the glow. It remained steady. Today, I use a flag I can see from my bedroom window to gauge the wind’s direction. I also check NASA’s satellite imagery, which shows how alarmingly close the fire is.

A Moment of Gratitude Amidst the Unknown

As tension mounted the previous night, my boyfriend’s unwavering support comforted me. While many mentioned insurance as a safety net, the thought of possibly losing my home weighs heavily on me. I hope to avoid another setback in an already tumultuous year. I think I will. The flag, a cliche in metaphors in its own right, is still waving and telling me the wind is carrying the flames away from home. I am still close to the flames.

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