A friend called Gordon Hutting on Monday saying smoke was spotted above his home on Linehan Road. He watched it for 15 or 20 minutes and called his wife, LaVonne, telling her, "this thing is really starting to spread."
The Huttings had reason to be concerned. They had 33 dogs, four horses, a donkey and some kittens to evacuate. The Huttings are the owners of Cold Nose Kennels, and 17 of the dogs were there for boarding or training. They also had their two family dogs and 14 retired sled dogs.
They took care of the horses and donkey first, loading them up and going to their friends, Dick and Diana Goodricks' place in Dayton.
Accompanied by the Goodricks, Bruce and Shirley Allen and Chuck and Bonnie Matton, the Huttings went back for the dogs. They were met by some EMTs.
"They said, 'How long do you need?' and we said, 'About an hour,'" Gordon Hutting said. "They told us we had 30 minutes."
Fortunately, the Huttings were prepared for such a disaster, keeping crates handy to secure the boarded dogs and making sure his kennel trucks and horse trailers were hooked up and ready. As he was loading dogs into crates, Gordon looked back at the fire.
"By that time the fire had gone behind the Victorian house (across the street)," he said. "It seemed about 15 to 20 yards off Linehan Road and it was just roaring. The planes were flying and the piñon pines were exploding."
The Huttings and their friends managed to get all the animals out, maybe not in 30 minutes, but in time to beat the fire, barely.
"The wind would go from a dead calm and then a rush," Gordon Hutting said. "The way that thing was roaring, when we were loading the horses, we could feel ash drift on us from the wind."
All of the animals at Cold Nose Kennels are safe. The Mattons and Goodricks took five dogs; the rest were taken to Shirley Allen's Lucky Horse Rescue Corral in Dayton Valley to add to her menagerie of three dogs, several cats and about 10 horses.
After dropping off the Cold Nose Kennel refugees, Shirley Allen and LaVonne Hutting returned to Linehan Road with the trailers to help evacuate others.
Some of the owners of the boarded dogs are on vacation and difficult to reach, and Gordon Hutting was working Tuesday to contact them all to reassure them their dogs were safe.
"Everyone is fine," he said. "If the smoke had started getting dense, I would have left even if the fire wasn't close, because I won't take any chances with any respiratory problems."
He said he was told the evacuation was mandatory, rather than voluntary as has been reported, and that he was not allowed to go back to retrieve some equipment for the dogs.
"It was a mandatory evacuation. We had no choice," he said.
For now, the Huttings are hunkering down in Dayton, unable to return for at least 24 hours. LaVonne and Gordon are grateful for the help of their friends in Dayton Valley
"The way the neighbors over here in Dayton reacted was absolutely phenomenal," LaVonne Hutting said. "People came from the neighborhood because they knew we were struggling. They just dropped what they were doing and came to help."
• Contact reporter Karen Woodmansee at email@example.com or 882-2111 ext. 351.