“It’s a tough time, we’ve lived here most of our lives,” he says. “To come and see this, at this point, it’s overwhelming. You know it’s going to be bad, but you can’t really take it in until you get here and see the scene.”
Like many people from this area, McGaha paid attention when the Carlton Complex fire broke out earlier this week. But he didn’t think he was in any danger.
“I thought we were going to be ok, it’s far away, we’ll watch it. But with the wind, it just took off and exploded.”
Sam Cain was also surprised by the power of the fire.
“They were 50 or 60 foot tall flames, it was unbelievable,” he says. “Then there was so much smoke, you couldn’t see a thing.”
His barn burned to the ground. But somehow, his home and his neighbors were spared.
“It’s bizarre, it is very strange. I’m just glad we are ok and have places to live, but a lot of people don’t. There’s a lot of homes got burnt.”
Everyone in town agrees this fire has been especially unpredictable.
“Normal fires we’ve had before,” says Rebecca Lyon, whose mom lives in Malott. “They just went down the hill. This one they call the checkerboard fire, because it’s jumping from different places, spot to spot.”
It’s still far from being out, and more homes could be destroyed before firefighters get control. McGaha hopes that doesn’t happen. He doesn’t want other families to go through what his is right now, even though he’s trying to make the best of his situation.
“Those things that were lost can be replaced, we’ll have the memories. And we can hang on to those.”