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Signal Peak Fire from a homeowner's perspective

By Mary Alice Murphy

"We have owned the property for 17 years," Heidi Pendleton, who owns with her husband, a home in the Lockney Holdings, said. "We were the first to build a house in the area."

Because she has two children in school, she spends most of the week in town, working at the Guadalupe Montessori School her children attend.

"The children and I were at the house over the weekend," Pendleton said. "It's our main home. My husband is on a trails crew.

"We usually leave late Sunday afternoon, but we left early that afternoon because I had an appointment in town," Pendleton said. "We drove right past flames. I drove like crazy to get to phone service to report the fire. I was driving toward Pinos Altos when the fire exploded. How lucky we were to have left early. We are happy to be alive. Our cat is up there, but I have been told by the ground firefighters that she's fine."

The family is friends with the Signal Peak Lookout, John Kavchar, and "he warned me not not to be shocked by the damage the fire had done. It stopped about 400 meters from our property."

"I hope the fire will bring back the gifts of the meadows and bring the elk back," she said. "We haven't seen elk in years, probably because the timber was so thick. The fire will give the forest a new look."

She said the ground crew is protecting houses. "I understand they are still trying to firm up lines to the north and east of us. I'm just waiting to see what will happen. The fire will do what it wants. I'm grateful we're all well. The forest needed to burn and I have known that it was coming. I have mixed feelings, but I know it's a cycle."

Pendleton said her daughter is worried about the cat and their home.

"We're just waiting, knowing that critical fire conditions will get aggressive again this weekend," she said. "I feel better with the ground crew there. We have water in our rainwater tank. When I spoke to them, I told them about the water, which I hope we don't have to use up. I understand the helicopters have also been dropping water.

"We're lucky our house is on a meadow," Pendleton said. "My husband has been clearing and thinning around the house. I was frustrated that he was doing that all the time, but I will never say anything about it to him again."

She said he was working around Wall Lake. "When he saw the fire he drove out to get to a phone, because he was worried about us. He called and felt better that we were safe, and then he went back to work. What else can you do? We're just waiting."

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