GLIDE, Ore. — John Quimby was operating a bulldozer on the Elkhorn Fire west of Red Bluff, Calif., when his home property back in Oregon was destroyed by the Archie Creek Fire.
“It’s probably just as well I wasn’t there,” he said of the burning of his property on Rock Creek Road a few miles west of Glide. “I probably would have stayed and then realized it wasn’t the place to be. There was lots of fire on that road.
“But one of our chickens did survive,” he added with a laugh.
Quimby, a rancher and a heavy equipment operator, had spent the two previous weeks working on the Elkhorn Fire when he came home for a weekend break. Dan Dawson, another Glide area rancher, replaced Quimby for that weekend.
Quimby had been back on the California fire for two days when he got a 2 a.m. call on Sept. 8 informing him that the Archie Creek Fire had quickly become catastrophic. He got back to Glide that afternoon, and while there was nothing he could do about his destroyed home, he got on his dozer and bladed a fire trail around a barn on another of his properties. His wife, Julie, had already hauled away six horses and mules, but another eight were still on the loose on that property. Those animals did survive.
“I wanted to save the rest of what I have,” said Quimby, a long-time resident of the area.
Over the next several days, he continued to run a Cat and organized a couple other dozers as they cut trails around rural homes and around the Elk Haven RV Park.
“I really didn’t give it much thought,” Quimby said of having lost his home to the fire. “A lot of other people didn’t have homes either.”
He said his loss would hit him when he would need something.
“When I ran out of AAA batteries, I thought, ‘Oh I got a bunch at the house.’ Then I’d realize I didn’t,” he said.
After the Archie Creek Fire was under control, Quimby and his excavator were sent to the Holiday Farm Fire east of Eugene, Ore., where he worked for weeks on repairing and rehabbing fire trails through late September and into October.
When he has returned for short breaks, he and his wife have lived in a trailer at the Elk Haven RV Park that he helped protect.