Emily Ginsbach and her husband, Luke Ginsbach, owns land and several livestock out where the Cole Creek Fire began Saturday evening in Evansville northwest of Casper. The fire still rages as of Tuesday afternoon; about 10,000 acres have burned, more than 1300 people evacuated, and at least 13 homes lost. Read more about the fire on Oil City
Saturday, as Luke headed out for work, he told Emily to keep an eye on the
smoke over the hill.
Sunday, around 1 p.m., Emily received a phone call from her mother-in-law,
who owned land next to theirs, and learned that a sheriff was telling her
she needed to vacate her home; the fire was spreading quickly.
“I’m just so thankful she lived next to us and called. I didn’t see or
smell any smoke in the air,” Emily said.
“I tried grabbing everything I could; documents, everything off of my
husband’s desk, keys to all of the trailers and tractors, and threw it all
into a laundry hamper,” she continued.
Emily said the roundup happened in under a minute, and then she headed out
the door to start loading her horses into her four-horse trailer. She was
forced to leave behind two of the horses and one donkey after getting four
horses into the trailer, and had every intention on coming back for the
Emily headed out on Duck Lane towards Deary Lane to head into Casper where
she could drop off her livestock, but hit a dead-end where she ran into a
neighbor. “All I remember was he was telling me turn around, his face
completely covered in black ash, and his car packed full of family members,
dogs, and I think even his goat,” Emily said.
She then turned around and said the fire was burning in the ditch right
next to her alongside the road. Driving back down the road trying to leave,
she could see her home and land and just remembered how she “watched as the
fire swallowed up my husband’s shop,” Emily said. “And then I just remember
seeing the silhouette of my horse standing in the corral in the smoke as I
drove off with the trailer, and just started bawling.” The oldest of the
two horses and donkey she had to leave behind was the one she had owned the
longest and had the strongest bond with. “I wasn’t going to be able to
forgive myself [if they didn’t survive the fire].”
She came to the end of the road, stopped next to all of the mailboxes where
all of the personnel were and just waited it out. She was stranded with her
neighbors while the whole back pasture was completely black.
Her and her neighbors were told to drive down Duck Lane to get out in a
hurry, “I just remember having to dodge fire fighters and other officers to
Her father-in-law remained back to help fight the fire on their land and
the neighbor’s land, and was ready to begin digging trenches.
The father-in-law had taken Monday off from work to hose things down and
continue fire fighting. Emily’s mother-in-law went to work on Monday with a
packed bag, not knowing if she’d be able to return home or not.
“Thankfully, I don’t know how, but the donkey and two horses survived,”
“It’s so sad. I can’t believe it. We are lucky though,” she added. Somehow,
her in-law's home and her home still stand, along with the two horses and
donkey she has since brought to safety.
“Very thankful this happened over the weekend at least. Could you imagine
if this happened during the week with everyone at work?!”