PRAIRIE – Amid all the evacuations happening to towns in the path of wildfires, residents in the town of Prairie are back home cleaning up.
The Elk and Pony Complex Fires surrounded the small rural Idaho town. On Friday, August 9th the flames were so close that the Elmore County Sheriff’s deputies evacuated the town, but very few people actually left.
As the flames got closer to Prairie, air tankers dropped retardant in the area, forcing the fire away from the main part of the town. But in doing that, it forced the flames towards the home of Mike and Cathy Weil.
When asked to evacuate, the Weils stayed.
"Prairie has always been the sort of people that we stay around and try and fight it if we can," said Cathy Weil.
For hours they sat in their lawn chairs just watching the flames get closer and closer.
"So at what point did it turn from, let's sit in our lawn chairs and watch this spectacle to, oh my gosh?" asked KTVB.
“When the roaring happened and the brown smoke started pouring over us," said Cathy Weil.
Both left their home for safer ground.
"We figured it was going to take the house," said Cathy Weil.
Five minutes later, Mike turned around and went back to his home only to find his shed and one of the oldest trees in Elmore County in flames.
"This thing was on fire like Roman candle, the building is sitting here, it jumped into the roof and just basically consumed it in five to eight minutes. It was incredible," said Mike Weil.
What's equally incredible is the flames didn't jump to their home, just feet away.
"It was just me, the Lord and a garden hose," said Mike Weil. "That's what I had right there. Not too terribly bad, but not much against what we had out here."
The flames also missed another home close to his. The flames actually followed a fence and property line, although it did destroy a house trailer just down the road.
"Until you've been through something like this and you know, it's not like your head is making a lot of decisions, you're just kind of in auto mode, but I did, yeah, I got really hot. I mean if the wind had shifted, I was right here, if the wind shifted, I suppose, it could have, I could have been consumed, but you think about that afterwards," said Mike Weil.
The Weils say it's a miracle their home is still standing.
"I just stood right there and said, "Lord, keep pushing it that direction, keep pushing it that direction and he did," said Mike Weil.
While the fire has moved on from the town of Prairie and firefighters are making progress, there is a worry among some homeowners that the winds could shift and push the fire back towards this area coming down from the north.