Fred Doppelt


The Doppelts are safe!

For the past month, we have all been hearing about the fires out west, including the fire threatening Durango, Colorado, where Fred and Ruth Doppelt live.

Fred just called (Monday, July 7, 2:45 PM) to report that they are safe and are now back in their house. They were evaculated for four weeks, living in their motor home out at the airport. They had moved the Falco to the airport on the morning the evacuation began, and they are very, very lucky people. Almost everything around them is burned to the ground, except for their subdivision and their airport.

Alfred Scott


Fire Near Durango Colorado
(or How We Saved Our Falco)

Wow! We're safe and so is the Falco!!! Really scary as the energy in the fire was unbelievable, at times burning from mountain horizon to mountain horizon!

The area has been parched, less that 2 % of the normal snow pack. The lake, of which we're on the north end, is nothing more than a puddle. Because of this Ruth and I started to plan "what if there is a fire" many weeks before it actually started. We placed all our important stuff in one spot and when the time came loaded it into our motorcoach and a hangar at Durango La Plata airport. The Falco had been ready to move to the airport since last fall but we had been unable to get a hangar and were just about ready to truck it to Tucson.

Of all the luck we were notified on the 14th of June that a hangar would be available on the 15th. On that Saturday morning a wonderful couple from a local gravel company with a 72-ft low boy showed up. They helped us out of the garage and down to the airport. It turned out to be a "no sweat" deal. We got back to the house at 2 PM that afternoon and watched the smoke come over the mountain and listen to the sirens notifying us of evacuation!! We moved the motorcoach, two cars and one boat to the airport. We plugged into the hangar's electrical and water systems, and remained there till our return.

At the north end of the Vallecito Reservoir, facing south, showing the fire moving
south up Grassy Mountain where it was threatening the Forest Lakes Subdivision.
Photo from National Wildfire Coordinating Group website.

Fortunately, the airlines had a dump site nearby, which we used as needed. The smoke remained intense, couldn't see across the parking lot till mid afternoon, as a result the firefighting planes couldn't start laying slurry till is was VFR. Ruth worked in the local FBO helping with the phones, while I continued to work on the airplane. We were so fortunate. The aircraft spotting folks would stop by in the evening to let us know our home was still safe.

It was amazing to see some of those really old aircraft load, quick turn and fly off to drop their loads. We actually had 2 B-24's as well as Electra's, DC-4's etc. The guard was great, they were all over making sure security was maintained and no looting was occurring, and there was NONE! The Red Cross maintained a super evacuation center, served hot food 24 hours a day, helped set up camp for 1600 fire fighters, etc.

We're safe and sound now, with no damage to our home and grounds, but terrible scars all around us. It will take a long time for the beauty to bloom back, but we can wait now that we know all will be well.

Best to all of you,
Ruth and Fred Doppelt

P.S. see you all at the Galvaston fly in



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