ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Weston Ochse is a former intelligence officer and special operations soldier who has engaged enemy combatants, terrorists, narco smugglers, and human traffickers. His personal war stories include performing humanitarian operations over Bangladesh, being deployed to Afghanistan, and a near miss being cannibalized in Papua New Guinea. His fiction and non-fiction has been praised by USA Today, The Atlantic, The New York Post, The Financial Times of London, and Publishers Weekly. The American Library Association labeled him one of the Major Horror Authors of the 21st Century. His work has also won the Bram Stoker Award, been nominated for the Pushcart Prize, and won multiple New Mexico-Arizona Book Awards. A writer of more than 26 books in multiple genres, his military supernatural series SEAL Team 666 has been optioned to be a movie starring Dwayne Johnson. His military sci fi series, which starts with Grunt Life, has been praised for its PTSD-positive depiction of soldiers at peace and at war. Weston likes to be called a chaotic good paladin and challenges anyone to disagree. After all, no one can really stand a goody two-shoes lawful good character. They can be so annoying. It's so much more fun to be chaotic, even when you're striving to save the world. You can argue with him about this and other things online at Living Dangerously or on Facebook at Badasswriter. All content of this blog is copywrited by Weston Ochse.

Friday, June 24, 2011

The Art of Evacuating from Fires

The Art of Evacuating from Fires.

I should be good at this. I've done it now four times.

My Parent's Home
The first was during my wedding reception to the incomparable Yvonne. We were married in Deadwood, S.D. beside the graves of Wild Bill and Calamity on a scorching hot dry day in June 2002. An hour later, after we'd changed and almost had a dance, fire sprung up in Grizzly Gulch, causing the evacuation of about 30,000 people, including everyone at my wedding. We never did have the reception. We left all the food and booze behind. I know. Tragic.

My second evacuation came a year later. It was October in 2003. Reggie Bannister, friend and acclaimed star of the Phantasm Movie franchise, had invited me to participate in a horror extravaganza he and Gigi (his wife) had planned. Myself, Brinke Stevens, Angus Scrimm, and several others traveled up past Twin Peaks to Crestline. The local bookstore had dozens of copies of Appalachian Galapagos. We were in for a great weekend. We had drinks and dinner that evening and woke up to a conflagration. The two fires, Grand Prix and Old, converged into one raging firestorm with a cloud as big as Kansas rising above the pine forest. We evacuated along a highway called The Rim of the World.  Fire actually licked at the wheels of my car as it sped between hungry flames and a thousand foot drop above San Bernardino. That was scary.

And now this.

The Monument Fire.

Compilation of great photos

Compilation of some stunning videos

We evacuated once after seeing the line of smoke and burning homes march our direction, then thought everything was okay and de-evacuated. That's a new word, by the way. De-evacuate: To naively return to your residence when you think the fire is no longer a danger.

Yeah. And we packed for a day and a half. Yvonne, using tetris algorithms, packed two carloads into each car and we sped away. Then we returned Saturday night, woke up Father's Day morning and unpacked the car. The mountain chain beside us known as the Huachucas was barely smoking. It just had to be over.

By 1:30 the mountain had exploded. We walked out of the grocery store with Father's Day dinner fixin's in hand and rushed home. Had we been ten minutes later, we would have had to leave the dogs for four days, including our blind one in the crate. She wouldn't have survived it. Ashes were falling on our home. 40 mile an hour winds pushed a yellow cloud over our home. Sheriff cars with loudspeakers begged us to leave or else burn. We decided to Re-evacuate. That's a new word too. Re-evacuate: To frantically flee after de-evacuating prematurely.

Monument Fire Father's Day Night

So what does one take when re-evacuating? Here's a short list.
  • Comic Book Collection
  • Tax Records
  • Eleven socks
  • Fourteen T-shirts
  • Two Pair jeans
  • Seven Pair underwear
  • Elvis Jacket
  • Elvis Blanket
  • Vitamins
  • Blowdryer
  • Bram Stoker Award
  • Blackhawk .357 Magnum single action long barrel
  • Computer
  • Miscellaneus box of books including my own and those I couldn't live without which included Joe Haldeman's War Stories and Ray Bradbury's Dandelion Wine (Latter personalized)
  • Sunglasses (Not my Elvis ones)
  • Can of tuna
  • Box of Bling (Jewelry)
  • Dop Kit
  • Netbook
  • Four bottles of wine
  • Two hats
  • Family Photo album
  • And that's about it...
So that's four times now. Four. FOUR! I've had to do it three times more than most people ever have to do it. For many of you, I just took your turn. I've now done it so that you don't have to. So if you ever think you have to evacuate, think about it for a moment. You might find that I've already done it for you. So kick back, relax and watch other people's stuff burn.

Special thanks to my parents for letting us take over their home and for allowing our dogs to sleep in comfort and coolness. And thanks to my father in law for protecting my comic book collection. As Brian Keene will attest, I have some seriously rare books.

And most of all, thanks to the firefighters for saving our home.


  1. Damn! When I packed, I forgot my comic book collection. I sadly decided to forsake all of my Buffy memorabilia in favor of fitting my son and cats in the car.

  2. Glad you and the family are safe. It's been one hell of a fire season here in Arizona.

    It's like when it gets dry outside the harder the idiots try to burn it all down.

  3. Love that you took your Stoker. :D And I'm totally impressed that you can get by on a can of tuna and four bottles of wine. Hehe.

    So glad you're all safe.