In 2015, the Wolverine Creek Fire forced temporary evacuation of Holden Village. While the Village was saved, the fire burned vast portions of the surrounding forest. Below is the narrative of the fire’s spread and human response, as it was posted in real time.
November 17, 2015
BAER REPORT RELEASED: a message from Co-Executive Directors Peg Carlson-Hoffman + Chuck Hoffman
The US Forest Service has finally issued the BAER report (Burned Area Emergency Response) for the Wolverine Fire. If this is your first BAER Report, as it was ours, know that it is the duty of the Forest Service to bring any and all possible risks to light.
First and foremost, there is nothing in the report of which we were not aware. We have been working with the Forest Service and Rio Tinto on increased safety precautions and early warnings. Secondly, we have purposely established a smaller resident community for this fall and winter, members of which understand the risks and can be flexible. We will carefully watch and be with Holden in its first winter since the fire.
Now is the time for listening and learning. This year, the forest will tell us many things. It will share its weaknesses and its strengths. We will learn where the new avalanche chutes are and how the valley responds to the weather. We will learn how to live as a community with the forest in its new post-fire form.
When we have guests this year—yes, we will have guests in 2016—there will be orientations and things to learn about Holden that you will have not experienced. We will have J-Term and Spring Work Weeks and a guest season this coming summer. No one will skip the 2:00 orientation! There is much to learn, about both the mine remediation and the fire, all of it new and fascinating. We look forward to all that is to come.
With Good Courage, Peg + Chuck
September 26, 2015
THANKS BEYOND WORDS: a note from Co-Executive Directors Chuck Hoffman + Peg Carlson-Hoffman
Over the past several months, Peg and I have gotten to know Marc and Nancy Rerucha Borges—two members of what Peg refers to as the "Fab Five.” Marc is the Operations Manager, and Nancy is one of the Medics (and also serves in many other roles). They are steadfast, hard working, humble, and provide a wealth of knowledge about the Village and the forest. Add to that the fact that they are kind, compassionate, and talented and you have a true renaissance couple, much-loved in the Village.
Marc and Nancy exemplified all these qualities during the Wolverine fire. They were present, dedicated, and unwavering. They focused on getting things done and always put Holden ahead of themselves. They were true examples of servant leaders, working with us to evacuate hundreds of people, run the utilities, and get the water system operational for the rain birds, all under the pressure of the ensuing fire as it approached the Village.
As the process of moving back into the Village continues, we have a smaller staff, but bigger hearts. Our hearts are filled with love and gratitude for so many things, including Marc and Nancy. There couldn’t possibly be a faster way to learn about the operations of the Village than to team up with Marc and Nancy as a fire raged in the valley! The successes of this summer were due in large part to the expertise and leadership of these two beloved Holdenites, and we are forever grateful.
With good courage, Chuck + Peg
September 20, 2015
A note from Co-Executive Directors Peg Carlson-Hoffman + Chuck Hoffman
After being immersed in the Wolverine and Chelan Fires for 10 weeks, we are out of the Village and away from the community tending the business of Holden. Re-entry has been harder than we expected. It was difficult to leave the Village and our friends and colleagues. For the first few days, it was even difficult to talk to each other about anything other than fire. As we come to the end of our work here, we are feeling optimistic, prepared to move forward, and ready to let the fire experience broaden and shape our perspective.
This morning we visited our friends at Grace Lutheran in Wenatchee. We gave a short presentation on the fire and attended worship. A big thank you to Grace for the hospitality and the invitation. We remain grateful for the tremendous outpouring of prayers and offers of support. Please watch this week for specific ways to help.
As the weather starts to turn cooler, the fires are dying down (but not completely out) and the Village is preparing for winter. The BAER (Burned Area Emergency Response) team arrived in Holden on Friday to begin their assessment. These soil scientists, geologists, and hydrologists will help identify present and future risks and prescribe treatments. Meanwhile, Village life pulses with familiar rhythms and entertainment, including daily worship and a variety show on Saturday.
We will board the Lady of the Lake in the morning to return to Holden. Rumor has it that in our absence our dog, Rudy, has moved to another Chalet and was last seen wearing sunglasses and attending the 80’s movie night. Apparently it’s time to return.
With good courage,
Peg + Chuck
September 7, 2015
COMING HOME: a note from Co-Executive Directors Chuck Hoffman + Peg Carlson-Hoffman
After weeks of anticipation, it brings us deep joy to announce that all Holden Exiles have been cleared to come home. After weeks of exile ourselves, we know first-hand the difficulty of waiting and how daunting it is to return home. Of all the challenges we've faced over the last month—evacuations, fires, and running from place to place—telling Villagers "you can’t come home yet" has been the most frustrating for us. That has been heartbreaking.
A couple of small groups have already returned and more are scheduled to come home soon. But even now our forest is closed. In cooperation with the Forest Service, Holdenites are given limited legal permission to reenter to make assessments, repairs, and preparations for winter (how could it possibly be time for winter preparations?). When Exiles return, they find the Village remarkably the same and yet completely different.
The Forest Service is concerned about surrounding risks, mostly involving the road—they speak of “hazards known and unknown.” Some immediate risks will be abated by the removal of burned trees and rocks that could (and sometimes do) fall from the slopes above. That constitutes “the hazards known.” What remains to be seen are “the hazards unknown,” which will only be revealed by the autumn winds and rains, the winter snows, and the spring runoff. In the coming months, the forest will reveal its strengths and its weaknesses. It will speak to us in new ways, in new growth, soil movement, and avalanches. It will tell us what it needs and show us how to best deal with its new form.
Like the forest, our staff will also tell us what they need. Coming home, reuniting with friends, time, community rhythms, and the results of the fire will reveal vulnerabilities in each of us. As we have written to the Exiles, we also say to the entire Holden community:
Know that we have missed you. Know that our lives and our Village are incomplete without each and every one of you. Know that we will eventually bring you all home. Know that we hear you. Know that the time is coming. Know that this place—miraculously in tact—awaits your return. Do not lose hope now. Know that we carry a deep love for you. And, most importantly, know that the Holy One is present and travels this space with you.
With good courage, Peg + Chuck
September 2, 2015
DEEP GRATITUDE: a note from Co-Executive Directors Chuck Hoffman + Peg Carlson-Hoffman
Today we said goodbye to Chief Firefighter Jeff Pierce when the Lady of the Lake made a “flag stop” in Lucerne. The current fire danger is now low enough for Jeff to take a much-needed break. If you know Jeff at all, you know he lives and breathes fire. His entire Holden career has been in preparation for an event he hoped would never happen.
Jeff talks about fire, he teaches about fire, and he works hard on fire safety every single day he is in Holden. Ironically, Jeff was out of the Village when the Wolverine Creek Fire came roaring out of its lair on the ridge in late July. But Jeff was dropped back into the Village in a matter of days to handle the coordination of the Rain Birds, the hoses, and the sprinklers necessary to make Holden defensible. Frederick Buechner said, “The place God calls you to is the place where your deep gladness and the world’s deep hunger meet.” Surely, God has called Jeff to this place and time.
The fire has moved south, deep into the Entiat. Temperatures in the Village have been cool with light sprinkles on and off for four days in a row. With only seven people in residence, the Village is peaceful and quiet, and the valley almost feels and sounds like it is heaving a big sigh of relief. Maybe it is actually the sound of the entire Holden community sighing in relief.
As we begin to take stock of the Village and continue counting our blessings, let us count Jeff as one of them. He has been preparing us for this fire for years, never letting us become complacent. We are thankful for many things in these post fire days, especially Jeff.
With good courage, Peg + Chuck
August 30, 2015
CLARITY: a note from Co-Executive Directors Chuck Hoffman + Peg Carlson-Hoffman
Today was a most beautiful day in the valley to gather for Sunday Coffee & Conversation. Rain has settled the smoke, and for the first time in weeks it is clear and fresh. We had just short of one inch of precipitation in the last 24 hours, most of it coming overnight and into the morning. The slow, soaking rain was just the kind one would order up after a fire. Clear skies provided a first look at the mosaic pattern left by the fire—green trees mixed among the scorched ones and surprising spots of snow high on the peaks of Buckskin and Dumbbell. There is much for which to be grateful!
Peg brought three Holden staff members back to the Village with her on Friday to finish projects and prepare for winter. Yes, winter. The access by road is still unpredictable and will be a concern for some time. We look forward to bringing more staff home as soon as possible. Many of you have offered your time and financial support, and there will be upcoming opportunities for both.
Over the past several weeks, the “paths as yet untrodden” and “perils unknown” of the Holden Prayer have taken on new meaning. Ambiguity is much harder to walk into than it is to talk about, but we are strengthened for having walked it with you. For those new to Holden (over 3300 new folks have liked our Facebook page since the fire began) who may not be familiar with the Holden Prayer, we leave you with these words:
O God, you have called your servants to ventures of which we cannot see the ending, by paths as yet untrodden, through perils unknown. Give us faith to go out with good courage, not knowing where we go, but only that your hand is leading us and your love supporting us; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
With good courage, Chuck + Peg
August 28, 2015
YAY!!!: a note from Co-Executive Directors Chuck Hoffman + Peg Carlson-Hoffman
Tonight, we write together from Chalet 13-up. Nothing could stand in the way of the joy and tears as we reunited on Main Street this misty, drizzly morning. Happiness came from being together again and seeing the Village in one beautiful, green piece. Tears came from the tough drive through the burned forest, weeks of fire stress, exhaustion, and just plain missing each other. Tonight we give thanks for our staff, our families, our friends and the entire Holden community for their sustaining thoughts and prayers. There are now eight people in the Village. As soon as possible we will bring everyone home. To our friends in Wenatchee, Chelan, and everywhere else: we miss you. More soon.
With good courage, Chuck + Peg
August 27, 2015
CHANGE COMES SLOWLY: a note from Co-Executive Director Chuck Hoffman
There are now only four of us in the Village. Marc, Nancy, Jeff, and I continue to care for Holden while also trying to catch up on much-needed rest. Our fire crews have moved on to use their vital skills on other active fires in the area.
Peg’s post yesterday really spoke to me. The miracle of a positive outcome for our collective home was born of the skills and forethought of many people. Years ago, some saw the need for a fire suppression system. Others heard and responded to that call. Donors contributed to make it possible. Designers and engineers worked to install the system. Firefighters worked tirelessly while flames surrounded the Village. And supporters around the world sent prayers and encouragement throughout the event. All of these things are miracles; miracles of listening, acting, and sacrificing. Today’s photos show that Holden continues to be a green oasis, a sacred space where birds and animals gather, and a miracle to which we will once again be called.
In the small chunks of time I find to read, Terence Fretheim's book “Creation Untamed” has been helpful in framing up some of my feelings around the devastation I witnessed and the beauty that I know will come from the forest burning. As I consider the tragic loss of life and property, I know that God meets us in our joys and sorrows—not with answers, but with questions and mystery. As Fretheim writes, the creative process requires us to “create in community rather than alone; at the divine initiative, the creation plays an active role in God's creating work.”
Change will come slowly, but know that beauty will follow. Thank you all for answering the call and being part of this creative process.
With good courage, Chuck
August 25, 2015
MIRACLES: a note from Co-Executive Director Peg Carlson-Hoffman
Today is August 25. I had a good night's sleep at Celebration Lutheran and attended the 24th consecutive stakeholders meeting this morning at the Chelan fire station. The First Creek Fire has burned north as far as Field’s Point but remains up on the hill. It is chewing its way toward the B-and-B and the Lake House and many people are homeless or evacuated. There are still many reasons for prayer.
There are, however, signs of a shift. Chuck, Marc, Nancy, and Jeff are solid and confident in Holden. The land around the Village continues to smolder, but things are starting to stabilize and there is a plethora of wildlife. Thomas Lulay, a former Holdenite presently working for Pool, was on site for the fire and reported yesterday that the labyrinth is now more like a wildlife refuge. I love that image. In our phone conversations, Chuck and I talk about moving forward and topics other than fire.
In an update to Board President Karl Anderson I offhandedly closed with, "I think we had our miracle." Today I feel the weight of that comment: "I think we had our miracle." So much can still happen, and the recovery process is still ahead of us. But let us pause and say the words to each other: "I think we had our miracle." It is a miracle born of good timing, preparation, foresight, and hard work. Let us take a moment to give thanks for Holden’s survival while we remember that many others still struggle. The losses in the West (and around the planet) are ongoing and tragic. While we know that Holden’s survival is not an indication of God’s preference, we rest assured that God will meet us in every situation, joyous or tragic. That is the real miracle.
With good courage, Peg
August 23, 2015
A note from Co-Executive Director Peg Carlson-Hoffman
This picture from the Village looks quite a bit like Chelan and Wenatchee, and all of central Washington, I suspect. Air quality in Chelan today was in the “unhealthy” red zone, and here—an hour away at Celebration Lutheran—you can still taste the air. I wonder if it is the taste of the forests of Entiat Meadows, First Creek, or some distant grassland.
I struggle to imagine what the last three weeks have been like for Chuck: blazing fires, choking smoke, and constant watering of buildings for weeks on end. I have a hard time explaining the Chelan fires to him. I have witnessed DC-10s dropping fire retardant from 250 feet and watched as entire towns were evacuated.
As I look at Chuck's haunting photo, I am reminded of headlights in the fog—that you move ahead slowly, only as far as you can see. Holden is that way right now. If we lean into the visual metaphor provided to us this morning, we will look closely at and be present to what is right in front of us at this time. We will observe and be led rather than letting our egos project too far into the future. May God grant us patience for the coming days, as we wait for the way to be revealed.
With good courage, peg
August 21. 2015
NEW BEGINNINGS: a note from Co-Executive Director Chuck Hoffman
One of the many questions Peg and I were asked as we discerned our call to be Directors of Holden Village concerned our ability to handle ambiguity. We felt fairly confident that our careers as leaders of creative teams at major institutions had provided plenty of ambiguity. What we didn't know then was what we would learn during the uncertainty of the Wolverine Fire and what it would teach us. The last couple of weeks have stretched our comfort levels for clarity and patience. We also know that this challenge will continue to bring more of the same. I for one would like this to be over, and for things to be secure and comfortable, but we will still need to practice patience. We are tasked with seeing this through and tending to a new beginning.
The Wolverine Fire is bringing us together in ways that we could not have imagined, for which Peg and I are grateful. Many days make us wonder if we are up to the task at hand. But, by taking the event as it comes, we are managing. We feel privileged to have witnessed the renewal of creation as the forest cycles through its rhythms, despite the risks to our Village and the communities up and down Lake Chelan. The loss of precious lives in the process is beyond my comprehension at this moment.
We offer our deepest gratitude to Chelan Lutheran and Celebration Lutheran in East Wenatchee for providing shelter for our staff. We are most grateful to Village exiles everywhere (for we are all exiles) for your continued prayers and support. We do know that much will be needed as we move through this time of transformation.
While fire conditions remain a threat, the USFS feels cautiously optimistic. We remain vigilant as we begin to move into the long-term process of mopping up, the dangerous task of assessing the road, and checking around the Village for hazards. Some of the roadside remains green; other parts are reduced to ash. A USFS BAER (Burned Area Emergency Response) team will be arriving in the coming days to assess the road for unstable trees, rock, and potential mudslides. BAER Teams are staffed by specially trained professionals including hydrologists, soil scientists, engineers, biologists, vegetation specialist, archeologists, and others who rapidly evaluate the burned areas and prescribe emergency and long-term stabilization treatments.
There is much work to be done, and we will count on nature and the ingenuity of very skilled people to reveal the most pressing needs. The road to recovery is also part of our call, and with your help, we will begin to move through this time and into a new beginning for Holden. Lord, we trust that your hand is leading us and your love supporting all of us.
With good courage, Chuck
August 19, 2015
WITH GOOD COURAGE: a note from Co-Executive Director Chuck Hoffman
I post today to honor the lives of the three USFS firefighters killed and the four injured battling the Twisp Fire.
“I was just told that three firefighters died while battling the Twisp fire and four were injured,” said Goverernor Jay Inslee in a public statement. “My heart breaks over the loss of life. I know all Washington joins me and Trudi in sending our prayers to the families of these brave firefighters. They gave their lives to protect others. It was their calling, but the loss for their families is immense and I know the community will come together to support them. We will also keep the injured firefighters in our prayers. The conditions throughout the area remain extremely dangerous and I hope residents and visitors will heed evacuation orders or other emergency directions.”
Our prayers go out to the families of those who lost loved ones. May their lives of service and leadership be honored. We also offer a prayer of gratitude for all those with the courage to continue battling the fires. We give thanks for the teams that have been working hard to protect our Village and the neighboring communities. Take a good look at the faces of these amazing men and women of the Entiat Hotshot crew as you think about all those who put their lives on the line to protect others. I find some comfort in the writings from John's Gospel: "Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid."
With good courage, Chuck
August 17, 2015
OUT OF THE FIRE AND INTO THE FRYING PAN: a note from Co-Executive Director Peg Carlson-Hoffman
Chuck, Nancy, Marc, and Jeff said goodbye to Andrew “Zumba” Kingsriter early this morning. We "downlakers" welcomed this hero with open arms and Holden hugs. Chief Firefighter Jeff wore his full turnouts for the event! They sent Zumba off with the Prayer of Good Courage, the traditional seven candles, and one additional burned candle to commemorate the fire and their time together. I don't know if that makes me laugh or cry... or, like many Holden things right now, both.
If you are like me, you are also looking at the photos for clues to how the Village is faring. It seems terribly smokey—not so good. Cottonwood tree by the Village Center—check, good. There are many trees on the road and everything looks wet—good and good. Zumba's end date has arrived—not good. His departure from the Village to head home—good.
The good news is often the bad news: the good news is that Andrew is leaving the Village, and the bad news is that Andrew is leaving the Village. Is it possible that in the end it will be the same with the fire? With God's grace, I'm betting on yes.
Carry on with good courage Andrew, we love you. Peg
August 16, 2015
RHYTHMS AND CHAOS: a note from Co-Executive Director Chuck Hoffman
Many thanks to you for your continued thoughts and prayers. The five of us here in the Village have kept you in our thoughts and prayers as you wait for news—any news—to ease the wait. Primary communications links with Holden were disrupted for the past 48 hours, but we are back on line now. Back burns here are almost complete, and we maintain hope that they will hold the fire as it burns its way around the Village, keeping Holden safe. The hotshot crews feel good about the work being done, but by its nature, fire is unpredictable. So we continue to wait and be vigilant in our tending to the Village.
The back burns have been set in a way that will preserve as many trees as possible while creating a ring of black around the Village. The burned ring runs from the east perimeter of the Village, around the remediation work to the south, and west past the ball field. It was unsettling to see fire on Copper, Buckskin, and Martin’s Ridge while the Village filled with smoke. The evening revealed the horror and beauty of flames burning the fuel on the mountains. Despite the fact that these blazes were intentionally set, it's still fire, and so remains unpredictable. But we also know that we are witnesses to the rebirth of this valley. It's been more than 100 years since the last fire came through. So while we are thankful that it has not caused significant harm to our beloved Holden, we honor the renewal of creation in the midst of a paradox.
Our days are spent keeping water flowing from the Rain Birds that create a dome of humidity over the Village, keeping water on porches and other surfaces vulnerable to embers, and maintaining Village rhythms as we are able. We offer hospitality to the hotshot crews who are working 16-hour days. Yesterday, we waved our goodbyes to the Silver City team who left to help fight the new fires in Chelan. This morning, we shared Sunday Coffee and Conversation. We talked about finding order in the chaos of nature and comfort in maintaining Holden rhythms.
Here in the Village, the group has grown close, trusting and knowing that we are linked to one another. Peg and I feel the same link with our evacuees in Chelan, and with Villagers across the world. We feel honored to serve as your Director team and are grateful for your love and support. Together we will find our way through this time of challenge and celebrate what is yet to unfold in the life and ministry of Holden Village.
With good courage, Chuck
August 15, 2015
THE EVACUEES EVACUATE: a note from Co-Executive Director Peg Carlson-Hoffman
I am finding there are some certainties about evacuations. First, you will not be going when or where you planned. Second, you will be evacuated just before you are about to shower and do the laundry. Third, you will find your dog likes helicopters, the smell of fire, and sleeps well anywhere. And last but not least, you will encounter staggering kindness and generosity.
Yesterday the Holden evacuees evacuated the B-and-B and the Lake House because of the new fires in Chelan. We are basking in the love of many in Wenatchee, including Pastors Dave Haven and Misael Fajardo Perez and their congregation at Celebration Lutheran, Pastor Thom Nees at Missio Dei, Norma Gallegos, and Gustavos Montoya. We are tired but we are well cared for and grateful. As we continue to live into the Holden prayer, "not knowing where we go,” we rest assured that "God's hand is leading us.”
With good courage, Peg
August 14, 2015
HOLDEN BABIES: a note from Co-Executive Director, Peg Carlson-Hoffman
All of this talk about fire has kept me from writing about the fawns. I want you to know that there is actually something cuter than a fawn. It is the sight of twin fawns scampering. Scampering twin fawns can bring you to your knees, or at least bring your hand to your heart to keep it from leaping out of your chest.
Consider the word “scamper.” It is perfectly designed to describe what baby deer do when they play and run after their mothers. It is breath taking to watch them, even when they are eating the only tender green shoots in the Village. Right now, the twins and some single fawns with their mothers still hover around the Village while the fires rage on Buckskin, Copper, and Martin's Ridge. The fawns and their mothers give Chuck and I a visceral sense that life abounds—even as the forest transitions—and that God’s steadfast love is present with us no matter our circumstances.
With good courage, Peg
August 12, 2015
A note from Co-Executive Director, Peg Carlson-Hoffman
Most of you remember the days when it was impossible to make a phone call from Holden. These days we have limited phone service for emergencies, and it is an amazing and comforting fact that Chuck can call me from the Village. It is also a fact that I have been hovering around the phone like I did when I was 14 years old, waiting for it to ring.
One of the things we talked about today—other than how relieved I was to hear his voice—was fire in the Village. It is a hard thing to see fire and the Village in the same picture. The fire in and around Holden right now has been purposely laid. This is the "fighting fire with fire" I mentioned yesterday. It exhausts (burns) the fuels in a protective ring around the Village, so when fire arrives, there is little left for it to burn and the fire loses its energy. This is the difficult, dangerous, and grueling work the hotshot crews of Silver City, NM and Entiat, WA have been doing. The back burn is nearly complete, and the Wolverine Fire continues its march up Railroad Creek drainage. With good luck and the right weather, it will burn around Holden instead of through it.
The coming days still remain critical. We extend our tremendous gratitude to these teams who lay their lives on the line for others. We pray for the well being of the Village, for the safety of everyone there, and we ask God for strength in the waiting.
With good courage, Peg
August 11, 2015
A note from Co-Executive Director, Peg Carlson-Hoffman
I speak for both Chuck and myself tonight. Yesterday and today have been busy, dangerous days in Railroad Creek Valley. For more than a week, the hotshot crews and our five Holdenites have been preparing the Village for the inevitable: fire coming to the Village, one way or another. The next several days are critical, and though we have been waiting for this time, there is no comfort in its arrival. This fighting-fire-with-fire business has no guarantees.
And so the complex saga of emotions continues today: confidence in the outcome, sorrow for the forest, worry for the twin fawns and their mother that are still hovering in the Village, gratitude for our community, and admittedly, a-lot-bit scared underneath it all. The tremendous spirit of Holden, its people, the Village, our friends, and our family sustains us in these hours. With much humility, we stand in awe of our staff and the hundreds of you that have sent your prayers and love.
With good courage,
August 10, 2015
CREATION WAITS: a note from Co-Executive Director Chuck Hoffman
We are a small group of people in the Village and downlake tasked with a huge challenge. Thousands wait patiently—and some not so patiently—for its outcome, while long, hard hours have stretched our concept of time. A little more than a week ago Holden was at a Evacuation Level 1. Much has happened since then, and the time between seems far more vast than it actually is. Creation has its own time.
Our Holden team has worked hard with a single goal in mind: to protect our beloved Village. It's not just about buildings, although that’s what we are defending. It's about safeguarding the sacred place that forms so many memories, life changing transformations, and hope.
Marc and Nancy Rerucha Borges, Andrew "Zumba" Kingsriter, Holden’s Chief Firefighter Jeff Pierce, and myself have been working to compliment the preparation lead by the hotshot crews. We know many of the crew by name and have shared conversations beyond fire. Last night, after 15 hours of work, our day continued in the dish pit. I looked out into the Dining Hall to see the hotshot crews vacuuming, washing tables and chairs, and treating our home as their own. The spirit of Holden has a way of drawing us together that’s not dependent upon repetition or familiarity. It rises from grace and love.
The Wolverine Fire is drawing us together as it impacts the Village, and even more importantly, our vast community. We wait for updates, we share our memories, and wonder what lies ahead. The lines between eras are blurring as we come together around this unfolding story and reflect on what makes Holden, Holden.
As I work my way through the physical, mental, and spiritual aspects of this journey I find myself seeking the “why.” The morning briefings begin by asking the “why.” Why am I doing what I am doing? The things that at first seem important end up being distractions, and get moved aside to reveal the precious elements. Perhaps in this way, the fire burns up the old fuel, leading to the renewal of life, and revealing love at life’s core. Love is more powerful than anything I know to sustain life. We are grateful for your love, support, and prayers. While our community finds itself in many states of mind—and I do not presume to know where each of you are—I would like to share this blessing that I have been reflecting on, and in which I have found meaning.
With good courage, Chuck
FOR LIGHT by John O'Donohue
Light cannot see inside things.
That is what the dark is for:
Minding the interior,
Nurturing the draw of growth
Through places where death
In its own way turns to life.
In the glare of neon times,
Let our eyes not be worn
By surfaces that shine
With hunger made attractive.
That our thoughts may be true light,
Finding their way into words
Which have the weight of shadow
To hold the layers of truth.
That we never place our trust
In minds claimed by empty light,
Where one-sided certainties
Are drawn by false desire.
When we look into the heart,
May our eyes have the kindness
And reverence of candlelight.
That the searching of our minds
Be equal to the oblique
Crevices and corners where
The mystery continues to dwell,
glimmering in fugitive light.
When we are confined inside
The dark house of suffering
That moonlight might find a window.
When we become false and lost
That the severe noon-light
Would cast our shadow clear.
When we love, that drawn-light
Would lighten our feet
Upon the waters.
As we grow old, that twilight
Would illuminate treasure
In the fields of memory.
And when we come to search for God,
Let us first be robed in night,
Put on the mind of morning
To feel the rush of light
Spread slowly inside
The color and stillness
Of a found world.
August 8, 2015
LEARNING THE LANGUAGE OF FIRE: a note from Co-Executive Director Peg Carlson-Hoffman
While Chuck is in the Village, I am with the down-lake team. One of the things that I do daily is attend a meeting in Lake Chelan called a "cooperators meeting.” It is a special briefing for stakeholders in the fire. I represent Holden, and I can ask questions of the IC (Incident Commander) and others.
I am learning the new language of fire. Like any language, it is hard to communicate if you don't speak fluently. So today four representatives from the US Forest Service came to the B and B to talk to our down-lake group about the Wolverine Fire with a focus on Holden. They helped explain some of the terminology, and a bit about the local fire ecology.
We looked at IR (infrared) maps and learned about "laying down lines” and about the different strategies and phases planned for Holden's defense. They brought maps and spent over an hour answering our questions. After they left we felt more informed and empowered to move forward. They plan to come every other day to keep us up to date. We will try to pass that information along to you as we learn.
With good courage,
August 7, 2015
HOSPITALITY WITHIN UNCERTAINTY: a note from Co-Executive Director Chuck Hoffman
Five Villagers including myself were airlifted back into the Village Thursday morning and are now onsite working with the Forest Service/hotshot crews. We are working on utilities and providing practical support to the firefighter leadership team. Peg remains down lake at the Holden B&B where she is managing operations with a group of Village staff as well as coordinating communications with the Chelan USFS.
Last night we hosted over 40 hotshot firefighters for dinner. Dale Smith, Village Lead Cook in 2012 and current hotshot medic, prepared steak, salmon, and corn on the cob at the end of a long and exhausting day.
Today began early with a 6:30am briefing. Crews continue to prep the buildings and take down trees that pose threats to our buildings. The Village is extremely smokey, but the temperature has stayed on the cooler side. The weekend forecast is for rain and thunderstorms.
The weather is helping by giving us more time to complete our list of projects. Working with the hotshot leadership, our small-but-mighty Holden crew, led by Operations Manager Marc Rerucha Borges, has been busy taking down power lines and enhancing the water system that will supply our Rain Bird sprinklers. Chalet back porches are being cleaned off and wrapped in foil.
While we are trying to get as much information out to you as we can, it never seems enough. We know how much you love Holden, and the memories that have been created here, so we understand how disconcerting this event is. Our faith in our Creator and in each other will draw us closer, and together we will overcome the perils that lie ahead of us.
With good courage, Chuck
August 6, 2015
Yesterday, Villagers in Chelan and several other parts to the country gathered in solidarity to worship with the Holden Evening Prayer (also known as Vespers ’86). As the group in Chelan gathered at a local Villager’s home, hugs and smiles were passed around along with slices of watermelon and corn on the cob. The prayers of so many, rising like incense, help bind together the worldwide Holden community in this time of uncertainty. Bookstore Coordinator Lindsey Scheid said, “We are working, finding hilarity in just about everything, caring for each other and being cared for. This is Holden.”
The Wolverine Fire, now at over 26,000 acres, remains about 4.5 miles east of Holden Village. The spread of the fire was limited yesterday by helicopter water drops, rocky outcroppings, and aerial ignition devices which burned fuels ahead of the fire to slow its spread. Fire crews continued with structure protection work in Holden and have established a fuel break around the community. They are assessing additional opportunities to intervene in the fire’s movement toward the Village.
August 5, 2015
As of this morning, the Wolverine Fire has grown to 25,640 acres and several Hot Shot crews are stationed in Holden Village. While the fire did move another half-mile toward the Village today, it continues to move at a slower pace than originally anticipated, giving firefighters time to focus on setting up a containment line around the perimeter of the Village and protecting structures. At Holden’s downlake properties, a team of Village evacuees spent another day clearing brush and setting up sprinklers in preparation for a possible evacuation of the 25-Mile Creek area. Tonight, staff and community members will gather at Chelan Lutheran Church for Holden Evening Prayer.
August 4, 2015
The Wolverine Fire has grown to nearly 25,000 acres in a very short time. The USFS Type 1 Hot Shot teams are setting up defenses at 25 Mile Creek, Holden Village, and Stehekin. It's reasonable to assume the fire will end up going to each of these lines of defense.
Regarding Holden Village, the best estimate is that the fire is 3 to 4 miles away. The road is impassable between Lucerne and the Village, so teams will be airlifted in. The leaders of the fire teams are impressed with what they are finding up at Holden. Our Rain Birds and metal roofs will help in their efforts. We expect them to leverage and increase the value of what we have in place, add to those defenses with water and pumps of their own, and plan and utilize backfires to defend the Village should it come to that.
We have roughly 25 Holden staff cleaning up brush and fuel around our Lake House and getting sprinklers going at all of our down lake properties right now. It's likely that all of these properties will be issued a Level 1 EVAC notice and could be evacuated. The Holden business office is moving from the B&B to Chelan Lutheran Church. The USFS is also planning to relocate their command center from 25-mile to Chelan.
Stay tuned for more information as it becomes available, and visit the Wolverine Fire Facebook page, too.
A NOTE FROM OUR DIRECTORS:
Dear Holden Community,
We have to admit our start as your new directors has been a trial by fire. In the early morning, a day after installation, we received a knock on our door that informed us of a lightening strike that sparked what has become the Wolverine Fire. Our time and efforts have been focused around planning and managing the safety of people and securing the Village. We extend gratitude and appreciation for our managers and staff as they have been working hard to prepare the Village and Holden's property down lake. We are grateful for your thoughts and prayers as they sustain us all in this time of challenge. Thank you for showing such good courage.
Peace be with you,
Chuck Hoffman + Peg Carlson-Hoffman
August 2, 2015
The Wolverine Fire has expanded to over 15,000 acres. High temperatures and low humidity are providing ideal conditions for active fire behavior. After a safe evacuation of the majority of Holden Village residents and mine remediation workers on Friday and Saturday, the stay-behind crew were also safely evacuated by helicopter due to the road being compromised and for their safety. Before leaving, the crew activated the Rain Bird sprinklers and prepped buildings. Operations at Holden Village and the Holden Mine Remediation are suspended until further notice. Today, an overhead team took control of fire suppression operations, and are in the processes of bringing on more resources. One group will be dedicated to structure protection, mop up, and protection of Holden Village.
The Pacific Crest Trail detour is closed through Holden Village. Hikers are advised to contact the National Park Service office in Stehekin or the Forest Service office in Chelan for information.
A public meeting will be held tonight (Sunday, August 2) at 7pm at the Chelan Fire Station, 2 32 E Wapato Ave, Chelan, WA 98816. Fire managers and Chelan District Ranger Kari Grover Wier will give a presentation on the Wolverine Fire and will be available for questions.
July 31, 2015
Warmer, drier weather conditions have led to increased fire behavior on the Wolverine Fire near Lucerne. The Village is not in danger, but the fire is predicted to move towards Lucerne, with the potential to block road access. Thanks to capable Village and Forest Service leadership, Villagers were calm and well prepared when the level 3 evacuation notice was issued this morning. Over 300 people, including Villagers and Rio Tinto contractors, will be moving down the mountain today and tomorrow. A small crew will stay behind to keep an eye on the Village.
July 7, 2015
Fires have been in the news lately including our Wolverine Creek Fire, a lightning sparked wildfire that started 3 miles northwest of Lucerne. We know that many of you are concerned about the Village's safety. The fire is not threatening Holden or its structures at this point. The concern is that it could threaten our use of the road. We are currently at EVAC 2, which means we are ready to leave anytime necessary. There are 5 hot shot crews working on the road and in the reachable mountainside, clearing brush and ladder fuels. Holden has taken the responsibility of transporting firefighters in our nifty school buses, which adds a great feeling of cooperation. We've also spent quite a bit of time working closely with Rio Tinto, as we would evacuate together if the time comes. We are in good hands with the Forest Service and firefighters. Thank you all for your thoughts and concerns and thanks to the many friends who have offered shelter should we need it.