“If the fire had come up the canyon even three hours earlier, we’d have had to pull out, and Whisper Canyon would have been lost.” Camp Hosts Larry and Jennifer Lewis heard those words while being given a comprehensive post-fire tour of the camp by a Ventura fire captain. Instead by 1:00pm on August 22, when a 60-foot wall of flames raced up the canyon, several firefighter crews HAD arrived! By the Lord’s mercy, temperatures had cooled, the fog was forming, and the winds had dropped. twelveyear Family Camp veteran Randy Martin’s fire crew joined in from Camp Roberts, and through the night they fought the fire back, saving the Campground. The “Chimney Fire” burned for 25 days, consuming 46,000 acres, 49 homes, and 21 structures. It burned to within 15 feet of our “yurt” cabins.
“If the fire had come up the canyon even three hours earlier, we’d have had to pull out, and Whisper Canyon would have been lost.”
The two primary residences on the property and all eight Yurts have “open” foundations, and flames can easily be sucked underneath. The fire crews used our camp mowers, brush cutters, chainsaws, and shovels to clear areas around these structures, and near our propane tanks and water systems, setting “backfires” which pulled the flames away. In the end, not one yurt even had an ember land on it, and the surrounding pine trees were untouched. So, why were all those fire crews at Whisper Canyon? Because, again by the Lord’s provision three years ago, a volunteer named Emmet, donating his expertise and a week on his motor grader, had converted a sloped area into a full-size soccer field—it was a perfect “staging zone” for these crews. Emmet saved Mount Hermon over $25,000 on that project and having that open field available also saved the camp. Whisper Canyon gave hundreds of firefighters a bivouac spot and allowed them the use of bathrooms and the yurt bunk beds. Once the roads opened, a team of volunteers came and worked with Larry and Jennifer to scrub all the ashes from inside and outside the yurts. They cleaned the bath facilities and cleared the brush fire crews had cut to help divert the fire. One guest group had to cancel, but when we tried to send their refund, they said, “No, just reschedule us for September!” Groups have returned to this peaceful place of rest amid the beauty of God’s creation. And for a while, they’ll see the evidence of God’s grace, a whisper in the canyon where the Lord brought His rescuers.