Howdy to all from the Wiltbank’s and Sprucedale Guest Ranch. As many of you know,the Wallow Fire was recently in our area. On June 2 the Wallow Fire was not seen as a imminent threat, but the extreme weather conditions combined with the excessive fuel of the Bear Wallow Wilderness Area allowed the Wallow Fire to plume and spread across the forest. This unpredicted fire activity allowed only 30 minutes for evacuation from Sprucedale. The Sprucedale staff and family were quickly and safely evacuated to Eagar. Whitney drove the horses into the mountains and opened all gates allowing the horses space to avoid the fire. The fire fighters stayed at the ranch and fought valiantly all through the night to save Sprucedale.
We tried to be patient but couldn’t help but call Bob Orriell, our Forest Service Liaison, often to get updates on the status of the ranch. Everyday we were evacuated was filled with nail biting and trying to focus on the good things (everyone was safe). We would received bits of information from many different sources. One of our best updates was from a wife of a fire fighter who was stationed at Sprucedale, yet we really didn’t know Sprucedale’s fate. We were overjoyed when we received the official notice that Sprucedale had lost no structures (cabins). The news that Sprucedale was saved was sweetened when we saw pictures of the ranch that showed, for the most part, our beautiful treeline was spared. Dad and Whitney were especially pleased to see the pictures that most of the horses came home safely and were in the meadow. Emma, Whitney’s daughter, was ecstatic to hear that her dog was found, fed, and renamed “Whiskey” by firefighters 10 miles from Sprucedale! And last but not least the three little pigs were alive. We were even able to see Sprucedale in person via a Sherriff escorted on 06/11/2011 (video of the return) to assess the damage and prepare for repairs. The fire for the most part stayed in the forest undergrowth, which will grow back after the rains start. There were some areas where the tops of the trees were affected, and we are working to save as many as possible. Sprucedale’s structures were protected with onlya few melted waterpipes and electrical lines. The fences around Sprucedale took the biggest hit, but they are replaceable. Sprucedale will be operational this summer, but we do have a lot of work to do. For those of you who have asked how you can help please visit our Wallow Fire Restoration page on our website for more information. Overall we feel so fortunate and thankful that the Sprucedale tradition can carry on. Sprucedale needs some care but is ingood shape. This season will be different, but will be just as good if not better. It is going to be memorable summer pulling together as a Sprucedale Family and reviving Sprucedale. We are “putting on the work gloves” and will be back in business by June 26.
Please read more about the impact of the Wallow Fire and how you can HELP at Ranch Fire Restoration