HUTCHINSON, Kan. (KSNW) – For many in the Highlands neighborhood of Hutchinson, Wednesday morning was their first chance to see the damage outside after returning home late last night.
“It’s kind of unreal, and it’s extremely humbling,” said Dustin Ketchum, who took his wife and young son to stay with his parents when the area evacuated on Monday.
The Ketchum’s are one of the lucky families. KSN talked with the family as they assessed the damage surrounding their Highlands home.
“I mean you see the damage within feet of your house, and I mean, there’s minor damage to the siding so it’s just incredible. We were blessed,” Ketchum said.
When they woke up, the family didn’t know exactly what they’d find after making a dash out of harm’s way at the first sight of flames.
“On Monday, we kind of grabbed the quote-on-quote important things, the documents, and got our son and my wife out of here and that was the most important things to us so we got that, a change of clothes and headed to town,” he said.
They weren’t alone. Many people in the Highlands left at the first sign of danger.
“The power line was on fire, and the wind was blowing like crazy, and it was pretty scary for a while,” said Sue Dobson, whose family evacuated to a motel in town.
Like the Ketchums, the Dobson’s were afraid of what they might find when they returned.
“It was really, really scary not knowing whether your house was going to still be standing when you got back to it,” Dobson said.
While the Dobson’s property was also spared, others returned home to find that fear realized.
“We were really one of the lucky ones,” Dobson said. “We’ve got friends out here that lost their house completely and our hearts go out to them.”
She says the neighborhood plans to come together to lift up those who need it most and to thank the crews who saved their homes.
“I just want to give all kinds of thanks to the firefighters that fought this on endless hours and all the personnel that were out here and helping people get out of their homes,” she said. “They did a marvelous job.”
As of right now, fire officials in Reno County eight homes are destroyed.