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youngsters in the jumping field reacted with more enthusiasm, giving John and rider Claudia an opportunity to perfect their rodeo skills as they cavorted about, spooked by the big flying car with the noisy spinning top. It was soon followed by more of the emergency armada. Our neighbours in the more populated Lilloet and Whistler area were experiencing the same hazardous conditions and had been the focus for firefighter and media attention for the past few weeks. Recent local operations meant availability of atypical resources to address our emergency needs. It had been a dry, hot summer. The

Cowboy Wildlife Photography

mountains presented a fantasy feast for a hungry fire; a buffet of deadwood, dry forest floor and a stockpile of trees killed by pine beetle. However, the lightning

pageant continued for a long time, almost a week, without turning into a major conflagration. We became accustomed to what had been the bizarre: smoky spirals by day with the nights displaying a show of misplaced headlights of fire driving slowly up the mountainside. Our usual wake-up call of songbirds was now accompanied by the whooping of helicopter propellers. On July 31, after completing our routine barn check

at 9:00 p.m., we noted the cooling evening breeze was stronger than usual. The flaming headlights had condensed to established torches, appearing brighter and now travelling with conviction. Our various four- legged companions reflected our unease. Missing was the peaceful evening melody of many jaws munching, contented snorts and the usual atmosphere of relaxation. Restlessness transmitted from one animal to the next. However, nothing major had changed. There was really nothing we could do but get a good night sleep and see what the morning brought.


At 2:00 a.m. on July 31, we were roused by pounding on the front door. Dana, our young staff member, and a forest ranger woke us. Stepping outside, we were overwhelmed at the sight of Copperdome lit up like a city with all its streetlights on. Our “headlights” were now a massive red python with fluorescent orange highlights slithering up the mountainside. The ranger handed us a notice to evacuate, explaining that Camelback had fire raging on 300 hectares (approximately 740 acres). The fire on Copperdome, separated from us by the Lilloet River, now spanned 435 hectares (1075 acres). Both were 0% contained. I felt strangely removed from the situation with his voice sounding like a background news report. The flaming snake gobbling up centuries-old cedars like they were mere twigs was mesmerizing. It was so bright that it felt like a day in hell, with the devil’s nauseating hot breathe washing over us in waves. Although this torpor seemed to last for hours, it

Erin Fawcett

14 May/June 2010

was really only seconds before adrenalin jolted us all to action. We began our well-rehearsed emergency procedures. First we needed to bolster our numbers; calls were made to boarded horses’ owners and friends. Soon a small stream of cars, trucks and trailers paraded towards our facility to join in the dismantling of Dreamcatcher Meadows. We divided into groups. I oversaw the stripping of essentials from the house (important documents, emergency food supplies, extra water, etc. organized days before). Claudia, our excellent German yard manager, began directing experienced animal handlers to group and load the stock. Dana began moving tractors and farm

This photo and next: Nightime views of the fire from Dreamcatcher Meadows farm. Photos by Megan Livingstone Page 1  |  Page 2  |  Page 3  |  Page 4  |  Page 5  |  Page 6  |  Page 7  |  Page 8  |  Page 9  |  Page 10  |  Page 11  |  Page 12  |  Page 13  |  Page 14  |  Page 15  |  Page 16  |  Page 17  |  Page 18  |  Page 19  |  Page 20  |  Page 21  |  Page 22  |  Page 23  |  Page 24  |  Page 25  |  Page 26  |  Page 27  |  Page 28  |  Page 29  |  Page 30  |  Page 31  |  Page 32  |  Page 33  |  Page 34  |  Page 35  |  Page 36  |  Page 37  |  Page 38  |  Page 39  |  Page 40  |  Page 41  |  Page 42  |  Page 43  |  Page 44  |  Page 45  |  Page 46  |  Page 47  |  Page 48  |  Page 49  |  Page 50  |  Page 51  |  Page 52  |  Page 53  |  Page 54  |  Page 55  |  Page 56  |  Page 57  |  Page 58  |  Page 59  |  Page 60
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