Two families whose homes were destroyed in the Wetmore fire shared their experience at a Red Cross shelter in Florence on Tuesday.
Gary and Barbara Hoehn had lived in their home for 18 years before they were forced to flee. Several times, they said, they were cut off by the flames and barely escaped with two vehicles and their five dogs.
"For a little while, I lost my wife and didn't know where she was," said Gary Hoehn. "The smoke was thick. The flames got so hot that they cracked the windows on the side of my truck. As we passed the house, we could see it was burned. The roof had caved in. But we're thankful to make it out alive."
Unfortunately, the Hoehns said their three cats perished in the fire. But the couple has insurance and plans to rebuild.
Shawn Donohoo, his wife and two sons had only recently moved into a rented home when they were forced to evacuate. They previously lived in Texas.
After the two families met, Gary Hoehn gave the Donohoos a $50 bill to help them out. Both families seemed to be in good spirits despite being temporarily homeless.
Meanwhile, another Wetmore resident, Susan Beeghly, wonders if her house still stands. She said the fire was heading for it on Tuesday.
"We walked outside twice because we noticed how windy it was," she said. "Then my neighbors came banging on the door and said we had to go. Basically, we grabbed our shoes and our purse, and ran out the door."
Beeghly showed up at the shelter with her two children and two neighbors who also evacuated.
"It was my son's first day of school," she said. "We just moved into a beautiful house, so I'm hoping it'll still be there. I expected animals, but not this."