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"If it hadn't been for the firefighters...."

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  • "If it hadn't been for the firefighters...."

    Success in the wildland/urban interface!

    ALBUQUERQUE (AP) - The last thing Janet Stephenson saw as she
    fled her home was the group of firefighters standing between her
    home and the flames roaring toward it from the nearby Rio Grande
    bosque.
    "When I drove off, I saw this poof of smoke and I thought my
    house was gone," she said Thursday.
    It wasn't.
    "If it hadn't been for the firefighters," Stephenson said,
    trailing off into thought and shaking her head. "The credit goes
    to the firefighters."
    The fire, which authorities believe was deliberately set
    Wednesday, raced through 700 to 800 acres of riverside forest
    before flames died down Thursday morning.
    No homes were burned, but about 200 people evacuated - many from
    upscale neighborhoods in Albuquerque's north valley.
    Stephenson's sister and brother-in-law, Larry and Helen Levitz
    of Westchester, N.Y., and their two sons, Ben, 13, and Danny, 10,
    had arrived Wednesday evening. It was just a short time later that
    Stephenson's son, Andy Zampini, 9, noticed smoke.
    "We were having dinner around the pool and Andy looked up and
    said there's smoke," Stephenson said.
    They had only minutes to evacuate from what Stephenson said was
    "ground zero."
    Stephenson, whose husband Alan Zampini was out of town on
    business, said she and her son frantically raced to gather the
    family's dog and cat, some clothes and toothpaste.
    "But I didn't get the baby pictures. That's the only thing I
    wanted," Stephenson said.
    Andy said he "ran through the house, trying to get everything I
    could get." He said he made sure to pack his most important
    belongings - hockey equipment.
    Stephenson said she decided to protect her home by placing a
    garden sprinkler on the roof, but was so nervous that she was
    having a difficult time attaching the hose to the sprinkler. A
    neighbor helped, and she put the sprinkler in place and turned on
    the water.
    She said she had packed some things Tuesday when another fire
    raced through about 700 acres of bosque just south of the fire that
    began Wednesday.
    But "I had unpacked the car Wednesday morning because I had
    company coming," she said.
    Larry Levitz said his family had not yet unpacked.
    "We were relatively calm," he said of the family's
    preparations to evacuate.
    "Oh, no. I wasn't," Stephenson chimed in. "I was
    hyperventilating."
    The two families left in their two cars for a local hotel, where
    they spent Wednesday night.
    "One minute the kids are relaxing in the pool. The next thing,
    we're running for our lives," Larry Levitz said Thursday morning
    as the five evacuees ate breakfast at the hotel.
    Levitz said this is the second time that a fire has interrupted
    a vacation for him and his wife.
    He said they were at Yellowstone National Park in 1988 when 10
    fires scorched almost 1 million acres - a tenth of the greater
    Yellowstone area.
    "You could see that coming," Helen Levitz said. "But this was
    so close, so fast. It was a different experience."

    (Copyright 2003 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)
    Proudly serving as the IACOJ Minister of Information & Propoganda!
    Be Safe! Lookouts-Awareness-Communications-Escape Routes-Safety Zones

    *Gathering Crust Since 1968*
    On the web at www.section2wildfire.com

  • #2
    It's amazing how appreciative people are when you save their belongings from fire, but it also seems amazing at just how short their memory span can be for remembering what the Firefighters had done...
    Driver/Engineer/EMT
    Walton County Fire Rescue
    Walton County Georgia
    IACOJ

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