John and Liza Dart spent Friday night at an evacuation center after fleeing an 800-acre wildfire that threatened 30 homes in the Pine Valley subdivision of the Village of Oak Creek near Sedona, Arizona. They worried about a cat that was left behind but seemed unfazed that they were without clothing, medication, or even a toothbrush.
When the fire broke out, Liza, 55, and her daughter were in Cornville. John, 53, was at the family home without a car. Soon, the phone lines went out.
For the next three hours, Liza worried about whether her husband got out. Local residents filled her head with rumors: The whole subdivision was burning; people couldn't escape. She saw a helicopter dropping water. Her mind raced.
"I'm thinking, where would he run to?" she said. "The neighbor has a fish pond. I kept seeing him and the dog in the fish pond. I imagined absolutely everything. That's me."
In the beginning, John thought the flames would miss their house. He tried to sprinkle water on some trees but soon realized it was "an exercise in futility." When the wind shifted, John said, "I knew it was time to get out of there." He hitched a ride, bringing only the dog, some genealogy paperwork, and a laptop computer with pictures in it.
The flames destroyed the Dart's home, along with all the other homes in their neighborhood.
"I was just so glad to see him that nothing else really mattered," Liza said. "It's just stuff. And I'm not a big stuff person."