GOLDENDALE, Washington (CNN) A wildfire burning in Washington State turned a group of nuns into firefighters. The Monastery Complex Fire came dangerously close to a greek orthodox monastery on Wednesday. A newspaper photographer was covering the fire and caught the nuns on camera fighting flames.
It was a regular wednesday at their bakery when flames shot up across the highway. The sisters grabbed hoses and buckets of water doing their best to put out the flames while they waited for firefighters to arrive.
“It was just like a little brush fire, about a foot high. We started wetting it, but it was just out of control when the big pine trees started.”
Meanwhile another spot fire was burning down the road toward their cemetery and dormitory.
“We’re just praying and waiting and watching and then, these trees right behind this building shot up. And that’s when they told us we had to evacuate.”
The sisters spent an anxious night worried they would lose it all.
“We could see the fire from way across the hill, there’s a big valley and we could see it. And we just thought, that’s our monastery.”
They had no idea what they’d find when they returned. On Thursday morning they saw the trees around the property were charred and the ground is still smoking days later. But the monastery and dormitory were still standing. The flames burned right up to the small cemetery. But the graves and wooden crosses were spared.
“We were very thankful to see everything still standing. The firemen did an awesome job protecting all the buildings around here.”
The sisters now feel a mix of emotions. Grateful their home was saved. Sad the fire has destroyed so many other buildings and a bit bewildered by the attention, this photo has brought them.
“Everyone’s like, what a great job the sisters did but if you had a fire across the street, what would you do?”