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.
We brought relatives up for the weekend of Friday, September 4, 2020, and during the night we started hearing sirens. At 5:00 o'clock in the morning on Saturday September 5, I drove down to the Pub and Grub in town where some people were congregating at the gas station. A man had his phone and showed me pictures of fire at Big Creek. Lots of cars were coming down the hill at a rapid pace. That was a lot for 5:30 in the morning.
I was serving as a Fire Patrol for Southern California Edison Forestry on September 4, 2020, at approximately 1822 hours, I heard the report of the Creek Fire came over the radio. I carry a radio to monitor other agencies such as Cal Fire, U.S. Forest Service, etc. The dispatch I heard placed it near Big Creek, and I responded due to the potential threat and/or damage to SCE property.
Leading up to the Creek Fire, the County of Fresno was concerned with the density and significant number of dead trees in Eastern Fresno county. In 2015, the Rim Fire burned over 150,000 acres near Hume Lake and the sense of urgency to thin the Forest was ever present. By 2019 there were over 25 million dead trees in Fresno County alone.
The Shaver Ranch on Pine Ridge has been in the Shaver family for 100 years and was left in ashes by the Creek Fire one year ago. It is difficult to recognize. The devastation has removed landmarks, but there is the creek and meadow, the familiar curve of the highway, the rock wall, and the Shaver Ranch sign at the entrance.
It has been a year and a half since the Creek Fire started and I did not want to write my story. I avoided it because it meant it was real. I encouraged others to write their stories since I was part of the Storytelling Group but just hadn’t gotten around to writing mine.
I have a project for us." It was my mom calling from Shaver. My husband ,Tim, and I were getting ready to load our dogs into the car and head up to my parents’ house to spend Labor Day weekend like we do almost every year. This year it was different.
My name is Tori Lysdahl-Goss. I was raised in Shaver Lake and graduated from both Big Creek Elementary and Sierra High School. After many years away pursuing my career as a professional singer and actress, in 2013 I and my husband, David Goss, returned to Shaver, becoming full-time residents of Ockenden Ranch.
Those of us who live in the mountains of California are always aware that it can happen – – and undoubtedly will happen, sometime – – (but it surely won’t happen to us.)It did happen!!We were among the lucky ones.