Greenville resident who chose to stay behind shares his message

Editor’s note: Greenville resident and businessman Ken Donnell has been writing updates to share with his friends and family following the mandatory evacuation of Greenville due to the Dixie Fire. Ken chose to remain with his home. His missive earlier today was positive and filled with the good things that were happening in Greenville. But tonight the situation has changed. He is sharing the latest news from his perspective as of tonight, July 24, at 10:20 p.m. (This is a very personal piece. Ken is such an integral part of his community and we know others will want to know.)

By Ken KD Donnell

I have received reliable reports that firefighters are informing residents of Crescent Mills that they have approximately an hour before the fire reaches them.  And this means that we probably have 3 to 4 hours before the fire reaches the southern outskirts of Greenville (1 to 2 am, Sunday, July 25).  This knowledge leaves me with the heavy question of whether to evacuate or stay.   I have looked into my heart, and the message is that I must continue to stay longer, even if this means risk to my life.  I am prepared to flee on a moment’s notice, and will evacuate when there is clearly no alternative, but I would forever feel regret if I did not remain here until the last possible moment, and I have learned that life should not be lived with such regrets.

For all of the good reasons to leave, there are also so many good reasons to stay. I never court death or danger, but I also have no fear of death if it is my time to cross over. I love my home, my business, my farm, my workshops, and I love this little mountain town of Greenville with all of its wild, and eclectic citizens. I do know when to run.  But my heart tells me now is not the moment to run.  And if we cannot trust the wisdom of our hearts, then who or what can we trust.
I strongly believe that much of Greenville will survive a fire approaching from the south-southeast as this fire is doing.  A fire approaching as the cool of night falls is also favorable. Starting at Hideaway Road, there are several breaks in the tree cover to rob the fire of fuels as it would approach me.  I am in downtown, where there are few trees, and clearly have 100 feet, or more of defensible space  around my house … especially from the direction of this fire.  I have water and other resources in place, and good heavy wool clothing, boots & gloves for safety.  I know how to be prepared, and I do have possible evacuation routes well planned.  If I am still here in the morning, and if I have the ability to communicate, I will try to do so.  Or, if I do evacuate and reach some location where I have service, I will send messages then
I send my best wishes to everyone who reads this message.  I am confident we will all meet again soon, somehow, some way, somewhere.  Hopefully this will be soon in Greenville.   But whenever, wherever, and however, I want everyone in Greenville to know how much I love you all, and how much I hope our little mountain town survives this crisis.