The fate of Frank and Jeanne Moore’s home near Idleyld Park remained unknown Wednesday afternoon. Also uncertain were the fate of his World War II medals and decades of memorabilia, and the state of the steelhead sanctuary along the North Umpqua River that bears their name.
As the Archie Creek Fire spread near their home, they evacuated Tuesday morning to their daughter’s house in Glide, and when Glide was evacuated they relocated to their nephew’s house in Roseburg on Tuesday night.
Despite all that, the couple, now in their mid-90s and married for 77 years, maintained their characteristic positive outlook on life Wednesday.
Frank Moore said they took practically nothing with them, but he’s not too worried about their home or anything in it, because he has his wife Jeanne with him.
“I have the treasure with me. That’s my treasure,” he said.
The Moores were rescued by their daughter Colleen Bechtel and her husband, Tim Bechtel, on Tuesday morning, and taken to the Bechtels’ home in Glide.
The Moores had about a half hour to pack up and get out of the house, and they didn’t bring much with them other than a bit of clothing, just slacks, nothing fancy, Jeanne Moore said.
“We didn’t take the time to pick up anything. Eye drops, a few things I really need, but I sure realized when I got out I just didn’t do anywhere near enough, but gosh we just needed to go,” she said.
She said she’s “just hoping there’s some house left when we get through.”
Tim Bechtel wasn’t feeling too optimistic about that. After they left there, a neighbor had gone to their place to try to get some things for them. But he said the fire took off really fast and the neighbor had to leave.
He said the neighbor described a rumbling sound, a feeling in the ground that told him something bad was about to happen.
“He said, ‘I didn’t think I was going to make it off the hill,’” Bechtel said.
When Glide was evacuated Tuesday evening, the Moores and the Bechtels went to Doug and Gayle Carl’s house. Doug Carl is the Moores’ nephew, and lives west of Roseburg near the Roseburg Country Club.
Jeanne Moore said her nephew’s place is very nice and they’re safe.
“We’re doing fine,” she said.
It’s smoky there, but nothing like what the Moores were seeing before they left their own home, where they could see the fire on the other side of the river.
“We’ve had fires before, yeah, but nothing quite like this. This is, there’s so much of it overall, just so much of it,” Frank Moore said.
The Moores founded the Steamboat Inn — also in the path of the Archie Creek Fire — and sold it in 1975.
The two have spent decades working to protect the North Umpqua, its unique plant life and its world-renowned fly fishing. Their efforts were acknowledged when 99,663-acres of land along the North Umpqua were set aside in March 2019 as the Frank and Jeanne Moore Wild Steelhead Management Area.
The fate of that area was also uncertain Wednesday, but Frank Moore was calm about it. The forest will recover, and when it does it will be protected, he said.
“Whatever happens up there is nature. It’s part of God’s plan, and if part of it burns it’ll come back later. In a different aspect maybe, but it’ll probably be better,” he said.
If they do lose the house, Moore said there’s a lot of history there that will go with it. Some of that history includes medals for his service, including the French Legion d’Honneur, and pictures of the famous people such as former Gov. Tom McCall who came to the Steamboat Inn on fly fishing trips.
The thing Frank will miss most is a picture of Jeanne when she was 17. It’s the way he remembered her when he left for the war, when he landed in Normandy and when he fought in the Battle of the Bulge.
“Beautiful long auburn tresses, gosh what a beautiful girl she was, and that same memory as that picture is what carried me through all the time I was gone in World War II. That very same. I took Jeanne with me wherever I went,” he said.
But on Wednesday, having Jeanne with him on this day was all that mattered.
“As long as we have each other, everything else will fall by the wayside. We’ll still have each other and rebuild from that,” he said.