By Ray Lapine

First there was the gauntlet of smoke and fire. Lisa Torgerson got a phone alert early Tuesday morning warning that she had to evacuate immediately because of the advancing wildfire. She and her two adult daughters who were living at home grabbed the family photo albums and started out in a caravan of three cars to get out of Bonney Lake.

“It was the scariest trip of my life,” Lisa says. The road was smokey and they could see the fire off to the left. Because some roads were closed, it was hard to figure out how to get out of the area even though they had maps.

“It felt like a movie and it was the end of the world.”

Lisa Torgerson, evacuated by wildfires

She didn’t know where she was going to find a place to stay and food for her family until she finally found her way to the Red Cross shelter at the Best Western hotel in Puyallup. Lisa says the shelter manager there, Richard Simmons, “helped me with anything I needed help with. He made me feel safe.”

She and her husband make day trips back to their home to try to salvage what they can of their possessions. She is grateful that her family is together and safe. Lisa says, “That’s the important thing.”

All Red Cross disaster assistance is free of charge. You can help people like Lisa and her family who have been affected by the western wildfires by visiting, calling 800-RED CROSS or texting the words WILDFIRES to 90999 to make a $10 donation. 

American Red Cross Northwest Region

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