It was a hot, dry summer afternoon when Molly Linville glanced out her front windows and noticed a rare storm pushing down the narrow valley where she raises cattle.
Then came five lightning strikes in quick succession. And five plumes of smoke.
She thought things would be OK. She was wrong.
“I wasn’t as concerned as I should have been from the get-go,” Linville said.
At that moment, her 125 cattle were all in the southern end of the ranch, where the flames were closing in.
“The fire hit that heavy fuel, and the wind started. It just blew up,” she said.
With her border collie, Stinker, she jogged the cows two miles back to her house. The cattle were tired but safe. It was a different story for the surrounding ranch land and fences.
What became known as the Sutherland Canyon Fire eventually burned more than 47,000 acres in central Washington in June 2017. It jumped the steep cliffs behind Linville’s ranch – something no one thought it would do.