Fire

Seen here are what remains of Earl and Lorna Shetler’s home west of Belfry. The home was burned in the Robertson Draw Fire, and a GoFundMe fundraiser has been set up on the couple’s behalf. (Courtesy of Paul Thomas)

All Chuck Glasgow had to fight the fire approaching his home with was a half-inch garden hose, a fire extinguisher and some sand. But with the flames quickly approaching his house off Robertson Draw Road in the Belfry area on the morning of June 15, his only option was to get into action.

“There was not much choice in the matter,” he said.

Glasgow and a few family members used the hose, a 15-gallon water tank, the extinguisher and a water pump to douse the flames. Since they haul in all the water they use at the home, 400 gallons of water had to do the trick.

Likely due to the wind’s shifting quickly, fire responders had already turned their attention elsewhere, and were not able to respond to the home until two and a half hours after Glasgow called for help.

So, just like the homesteaders who settled on the land in the 19th century, they had to solve their own problem.

They did just that, keeping the fire about 75-100 yards away and behind an old cattle trail.

“We did what we had to do to save what is ours,” he said.

Glasgow said because of their efforts about 15-16 homes in the Robertson Draw were saved.

He said it was a call from his girlfriend’s mother at 4:15 a.m. that woke them up and alerted them to the smell of the smoke creeping toward their home, casting light so bright it already looked like morning. Just an hour earlier, he said, it had appeared the fire was dissipating and moving away.

“She never calls,” he said.

But at least two homes in the Grove Creek Road area weren’t so lucky, being totalled in the fire.

One of those homes, owned by Earl and Lorna Shetler, was lost on June 15. According to a GoFundMe page set up for the couple, hot afternoon winds blew fire across a canyon where their home was situated and flames spread quickly. The couple was able to collect some of their most valued possessions and their pets, but their home, several sheds and everything else was destroyed.

“This is a devastating blow to lose so much so quickly,” the GoFundMe reads. “Earl and Lorna had been working to secure insurance for their home but the process had not yet been finalized, which means their home and possessions were not insured at the time of the fire.”

To donate to the Shetlers visit gofund.me/1ecbca40.

Another resident who lost her home, Ruth Craven, is the manager of the Red Lodge Senior & Community Center, and had only lived in her house with her husband Bill Craven for three years.

The Cravens had left for the day, assuming the flames had left the area, but then the wind shifted and everything changed. Bill Craven was able to rescue their farm animals, all their vehicles and an RV, but beyond that nearly everything was lost.

But Ruth Craven is keeping a positive attitude thanks to her faith.

“I was really lucky,” she said. “Now we’re safe and that’s all that’s important.”

She said she plans to build an “earth ship” home on their land using completely recycled materials and any usable materials from their old home.

“I just see it as a push forward on a blank canvas,” she said. “We’re collecting old tires, bottles and cans.”

A GoFundMe has been set up on her behalf at gofund.me/d53f14a8. Ruth Craven said all leftover funds from their GoFundMe will go toward helping their neighbors.

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