Deana Coburn

Deana Coburn  | Ockenden Ranch,  Shaver Lake



It was September 4, 2020, and we were up for the weekend. In the early morning of Saturday September 5, we woke up to the sound of sirens. It was one of those times when you tried to go back to sleep but the sound of the sirens kept coming, so we got up. I went to the sliding glass door in our bedroom and looked down but could not see anything but could smell smoke and was concerned. It was about 5:00 am.


My husband Bobby and I went out front to see if we could see anything and when our motion detector light came on, we could already see that there was ash on the car. We were concerned that it was either a big fire or close.


Bobby decided he would go down towards town to see what he could find out, so I did not awaken my other family members at that time. I was waiting to hear from him. It seemed like forever that he was gone, but it was only minutes when he called. I could just hear a sense of urgency and a sadness in his voice. He said we need to get everybody up and to get out; there is a huge fire at Big Creek. I started waking everybody up and the only thing I could think of was I need to run down the road to notify my neighbors and friends.


That is what I did. I grabbed my purse as second nature and ran down the road in pajamas with my purse hanging on my arm. I had to tell the neighbors that there was a fire. I talked to them and told them what was going on. I let them know that we were leaving and hoped they would too.


Bobby pulled into our driveway and when I realized I had my pajamas on, I changed to my clothes. We and other family members packed up just our bags and a few items. We left all the food. We thought, let us just get out of here, and get on the road. We do not want to be in the way. When they put the fire out, we will come back tonight or tomorrow as we had just started our holiday weekend.


We were headed down the hill and we were just a couple of miles down the road when I thought I am going to call my son. He works for Edison, and he knew we were at Shaver, so I just wanted to let him know that we were OK. I told him we are coming down the hill and do not worry. He said, well you are coming down, but they are sending me up to the fire. Then my stomach just flipped. Again, thinking we are letting him know that we are OK and he was headed up to the fire to work at Big Creek. None of us would have imagined that this fire would have grown like it did. He was up there from September 5, through December 18, working for Edison.


It would be weeks before we could return to our cabin. It was a grueling two or three weeks of this gut-wrenching feeling. Were we going to lose our cabin? What was happening around us? What is going to happen to our friend’s cabins or homes? This was scary.


Our cabin in Ockenden survived while so many cabins in other areas did not. It is a grateful but heavy-hearted feeling at the same time. We cannot say enough about all the first responders who worked so hard, those who followed for clean-up, and those who are still working hard to support and care for those who have lost so much.