KLAMATH COUNTY, OR (KPTV) – As Russell King and Fawn Smullin arrived back to their home only to find everything destroyed by the Bootleg Fire, they took it as a sign that it’s time to leave Oregon.
The couple said they were building their dream home by hand in the mountains above the town of Bly. They had brought in solar panels and were doing all the work on their own.
“All of that hard work was gone,” Smullin said. “Everything we did to beautify the place, to bring in animals, to make it livable, it’s all gone and there’s no recovery for it.”
The couple said they have social anxiety and living in the mountains was their dream.
It’s been more than a week since the Bootleg Fire exploded in size and forced hundreds of people to leave their homes with little notice.
King and Smullin said they had to leave their home Wednesday night. They documented their terrifying escape in cell phone video, which showed the fire raging all around them.
“I never knew fire could be so loud and so quiet at the exact same time,” Smullin said. “It got so loud in the fire sometimes that you literally could not hear anything because it was so loud.”
“Probably the scariest moment I’ve ever had in my life,” King said.
They were eventually able to make it to safety and stop driving when the flames were far behind them.
“That’s when everybody fell apart,” Smullin said. “There was no holding back anymore because we knew it was all gone.”
Saturday was when the couple was able to get back to their home. Unfortunately, their worst fears were confirmed true and the couple had lost everything.
“Our soul just got kind of burned down,” Smullin said.
The couple said that they do not plan to rebuild in Oregon after this. They are taking the fires raging across the southern part of the state as a sign to leave.
“We’re looking at going to Arkansas,” King said. “I have a lot of family back there who want me to come back home, so that’s what we’re leaning to.”
They said they fear for anyone who could still be in the fire’s path. The couple created a GoFundMe account to help them rebuild. Anyone who would like to donate can do so here.
A Red Flag Warning is in effect again Monday for southern Oregon because of the dry and windy conditions. Officials said this means the Bootleg Fire will continue to be very active.