Prayers, people and horses to safety
As the flames crept down Highway 213 toward RSG Forest Products near Liberal, Bob Hartman knew there were some decisions to be made. Once it jumped the highway, the decision was made for him — evacuate themselves and 22 horses boarding on their property near Molalla.
But through it all, he and wife Donna leaned on their faith as a key component to making it through the ordeal.
The couple own a stable on Liberal Way, located on the south side of RSG Forest Products. The 13-acre farm has 22 barn stalls, all of which were filled when things got started.
"This started for us on Monday night (Sept. 7)," said Hartman. "We saw the fire pretty much as it was coming up (Highway) 213 from Macksburg Road. We couldn't see the flames, but we could see the halo the fire was making. So, we kept an eye on it and when it crossed the road and got into the RSG lumber, we called Jessica Grief, our barn manager."
After some phone calls between Grief and the Hartmans, the horse evacuation started to gallop into place.
"She (Grief) called Kayla Sawyer and Nick Meuret (owner of NV Feed), and some other people and folks started coming over," said Hartman. "Typically, our driveway is pretty full if we have four trucks and trailers in there. I don't know how many showed up, but we were packed in there."
The volunteers went to work, getting the horses out of their stalls and into trailers for transport. It was, said Hartman, something special to see.
"I'm emotional about it because of gratitude," he said. "All the people that showed up and gave of themselves in our time of need — we are active members in our church and gave it all up to the Lord. To see it working out live right in front of your face is amazing.
"I bet from the time they showed up and started bringing them in (one and two at a time), it was under a half hour," he added. "It was amazing."
Originally, the Bar 88 ranch near Molalla opened its stall doors to the 22 horses on Monday night, but by Tuesday morning other fires in the area had kicked up and that forced another evacuation. This time, the horses were sent to a variety of locales for safety. For Hartman and his wife, that was the key — everyone was safe.
And as of Wednesday afternoon, the Hartman's home was still standing, something he was again grateful for. But the experience, he said, was humbling.
"When those RSG log decks caught on fire, those flames were big enough and hot enough they were going across Liberal southward," he said. "We had embers landing in our pasture and I saw firefighters out in our pasture cleaning them up."
As he and his wife lay waiting in a trailer in a safe area Monday night, Bob Hartman said they did "the only thing we could do — put it in God's hands."
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