ARIEL, Wash. — Off Highway 503 in Washington, it’s as small town as it gets.
“It’s unique, it’s wonderful. You know, nirvana, whatever you want to call it. It’s quiet,” said Chris Matthews in front of her Ariel home.
Chris and her husband Dale have lived there for about 30 years. They’ve put a lot of hard work into the property, and on Thursday they were watching the Big Hollow fire burning through the Gifford Pinchot National Forest.
“In this area, we’re in Level 2, and we’re ready if we have to leave all of a sudden,” Dale said. “We have chickens. We got them out and we got the dog and the cat out. So we’re taking care of what we can.”
They moved a lot of their stuff on Wednesday night to Dale’s brother’s house. They went back home to reassess the situation, running multiple sprinklers to soak the trees and brush, even the house, just in case.
“Hope and pray to God that it doesn’t come this way,” Dale said.
The Matthews’ life here wasn’t built overnight, and they know that if the winds change that’s how fast it could be lost.
“It’s scary to think that it could be gone in an instant if a fire comes through here,” Dale said
“When you have an older forest or a lot of undergrowth and the conditions that we have had are insane," Chris said. "It takes out what it wants to.”
The steady stream from the sprinklers might not be rain, but it’s keeping their hopes alive. Dale and Chris are doing what they can to save their home.
Whether it’s still here after the Big Hollow wildfire is out, what matters won’t be here if it does come knocking.
“I’ve got my wife and me, my dogs and chickens and we’re fine," Dale said. "We’ll get out, we’ll be OK."
“We won’t make any foolish decisions,” said Chris. “We’ll get out of here when we know we need to.”