CANYON CITY — “It was like something out of a horror movie.”
That’s what Amy Hoppe said the Canyon Creek area resembled when she, her brother and a cousin drove through Saturday morning, Aug. 15, to check on the home of her 90-year-old grandmother, Dortha Hoppe.
At least they knew the home was still standing.
And Dortha was safe at that point, too, staying in John Day with her son and his wife, Wayne and Barbara Hoppe, Amy’s parents.
When the area went on a Level 1 evacuation the morning before, Amy went up to her grandmother’s house to get her and some of her clothes, and take her to her parents’ house in John Day. But when Amy went to get a few more belongings, the police told her the area was at a Level 3 evacuation. She needed to leave immediately.
“I rushed into the home, shaking, grabbed a bunch of photo albums and snapped a picture out the window,” she said.
Later that night, they were told the house was gone, but Amy said she learned from Julie and Gordon Larson, who went up to get horses, that it was the only home in the area not destroyed.
Just exactly what they found upon arrival however, took them by surprise.
The property surrounding the home and right up to its base was blackened and charred. A couple of windows were blown out and vinyl siding melted in places, Hoppe said, but otherwise, it was intact.
The next day, Sunday, while she and another cousin were at the house, firefighters from the North Lincoln Fire Department stopped by to ask a few questions and told them it was a local Oregon Department of Forestry crew who had worked that area.
According to the North Lincoln fire crew, Amy said, the forestry department crew moved brush and stuck sprinklers around, hoping to save it. They had to move on before they themselves didn’t make it back out, but asked later about the houses that were still standing and about “the yellow one on the hill.”
“The North Lincoln guys said they named it the ‘miracle house,’” Amy said.
Ever since Dortha’s husband, Buck Hoppe, died in May 2011, Amy said her parents have tried to help her grandmother stay in her home, where she has lived for over 50 years. “We all to this day have no clue how it is still there,” she added.
It was also an early birthday present for Dortha, who turned 90 on Aug. 17.
“My family and grandmother are grateful, but our hearts are heavy for those who did lose homes,” Amy said.
“We are beyond thankful for what they did,” she added.