Breaking Through the Darkness: A Path to Healing and Renewal Part 1

In this riveting episode of “The Fire Inside Her,” host Diane Schroeder delves into the story of a firefighter with an indomitable spirit. With a call to service and a love of nature, our guest, Kimberly Lightley, found her purpose in wildland firefighting. Our conversation today uncovers the life-altering moment when her path intersected with the South Canyon fire of 1994. As we follow her journey, we gain insight into the awe-inspiring world of hotshot crews, their challenges, and their incredible resilience. From the breathtaking mountains they conquer to the weeks spent camping with limited resources, we discover the true mettle of these elite firefighters. But Kimberly’s story is just the beginning. Join us as we explore the depths of authenticity, the struggle to recognize one’s value, and the transformative power of resilience. Don’t miss this raw and powerful episode of “The Fire Inside Her,” where the fire burns deep within the hearts of its heroes.

The South Canyon Fire on Storm King Mountain claimed the lives of fourteen wildland firefighters in Glenwood Springs, Colorado on July 6th, 1994. Kimberly Lightley is a surviving crewmember of the U.S. Forest Service, Prineville Interagency Hotshot Crew, from the 1994 tragedy. As an educator and advocate for first responder well-being, Kimberly has spoken in venues nationwide and internationally, delivering mechanisms of coping and well-being in preparation and mitigation of the stress associated with emergency response. She has a Master of Science in Risk Management from the Notre Dame of Maryland University and a Bachelor of Science in Biology from George Fox University. Kimberly has received training from the National Fallen Firefighter Foundation (NFFF), the International Critical Incident Stress Foundation (ICISF), Duke University of Integrative Medicine, and the Mind Fitness Training Institute. As a fire peer, she has responded to numerous critical incidents, providing on-site peer support.

Kimberly is the former Risk Management Program Specialist with the U.S. Forest Service, Fire and Aviation Management, Washington Office, and the National Program Manager for Stress First Aid for Wildland Firefighters. She makes her home in Powell Butte, Oregon, with her family and two dogs. She currently has her own LLC and provides training in Crisis Leadership.

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Diane Schroeder [00:00:00]:

Welcome to The Fire Inside Her podcast, a safe space for leadership, self care, and community. I'm your host Diane Schroeder, and it is my privilege to be your guide on the journey to authenticity. Hello, fiery souls. When I was younger, my parents talked a lot about the assassination of JFK. My dad would share that it really broke his heart when he was killed. Now, this was a really long time ago, and I didn't really understand how a president getting shot that my dad didn't know could impact him so profoundly. Then as I grew up and started to experience national tragedies as a young adult, I started to understand. I remember where I was when the Oklahoma City bombing occurred. The Columbine High School shooting, obviously. 911, Hurricane Katrina, Superstorm Sandy and the Aurora Theater shooting, just to name a few. One event that occurred in 1994 that you may not have heard of or may not remember was the South Canyon or Storm King Mountain Fire where 14 firefighters lost their lives. That particular fire really had a profound impact on my life and I think my career, because it occurred right after I graduated from high school and just before I started college and began my journey to get hired in the Fire service. I was very honored to meet one of the survivors from Stormking Mountain or South Canyon Fire a few months ago, and I asked her to be a guest on the show, and she said yes. And her story is such a powerful story about resiliency, community, leadership, self care, and authenticity. The South Canyon Fire on Storm King Mountain claimed the lives of 14 wildland firefighters in Glenwood Springs, Colorado, on July 6, 1994. Kimberly Lightley is a surviving crew member of the US. Forest Service prineville intraagency hotshot crew from the 1994 tragedy. As an educator and advocate for first responder well being, kimberly has spoken in venues nationwide and internationally, delivering mechanisms of coping and well being in preparation and mitigation of the stress associated with emergency response. She has a Master of Science in Risk Management from the Notre Dame of Maryland University and a Bachelor of Science in Biology from George Fox University. Kimberly has received training from the National Firefighter Foundation, the International Critical Incident Stress Foundation, duke University of Integrative Medicine, and the Mind Fitness Training Institute. As a fire peer, she has responded to numerous critical incidents, providing on site peer support. Kimberly is the former risk management program specialist with the US. Forest Service, fire and Aviation Management, Washington office and the national program manager for stress first aid for wildland firefighters. She makes her home in Powell Butte, Oregon, with her family and two dogs. She currently has her own LLC and provides training in crisis leadership. Kimberly's story is powerful, emotional, raw, and very authentic and genuine. I am so honored that she took time to share her story with us. Here is part one. Welcome, Kimberly. It is so nice to have you as a guest today. I am so excited. I've been so excited since we got this scheduled.

Kim Lightley [00:05:02]:

Me, too.

Diane Schroeder [00:05:03]:

Well, we'll get started right away with the random icebreaker question. And my question to you is, what is your favorite childhood meal?

Kim Lightley [00:05:15]:

Meal? Well, when I was young, my mother used to make Manicotti, and there's just something about the way the kitchen smelled and just the preparation. There was a lot to it, stuffing the shells and yeah, I love yeah, it is good.

Diane Schroeder [00:05:38]:

The last time I had manicotti was at this really good Italian restaurant that we discovered in Boulder last month, and it was just incredible. So food always triggers wonderful memories for yes, absolutely fantastic. Well, I also would like for you to share a little bit about yourself and your story, and what I'm really curious about is what got you interested in the US. Forest Service and being a hotshot and a wildland firefighter.

Kim Lightley [00:06:17]:

So how much time do you have, Diane?

Diane Schroeder [00:06:21]:

We have a lot of time, but maybe highlights.

Kim Lightley [00:06:26]:

Well, I'll try to truncate some highlights here for, you know, growing up, I had an amazing childhood. I had a mother who was from Kansas and a father who was in the Korean War in the US. Navy. And so mom was very much a homemaker, and we're talking chocolate chip cookies and milk every time my brother and I got home from school. And then dad this, that mindset of the military and that sort of thing. And so it was a really interesting gamish, I guess, of different parents and just their styles. And so as I grew up, I always wanted to be in the US. Coast Guard. I mean, I was born on the Oregon coast, in Newport, Oregon, on the Pacific, and it was like, I want to be on the Coast Guard. And my dad didn't have really, a real fond experience in the Korean War, so he was very much like, no daughter of mine is going to be in the service. And I was a little bit of a rebel, but when I turned 18, it was like, okay, dad, I understand, and I respect you. However. How about the US? Forest Service? Because I still wanted to be part of a service. And he's like, okay. So my very first year in the US. Forest Service was when I was 18, and I went to what we called the Guard School, where we learned firefighting tactics and strategies and all sorts of things to deal with the wildland fire community. And so I just fell in love with, know, just that little bit of a pyro, perhaps fire, know, putting it out and digging line, and got on a crew here in Bend, Oregon, and one of our first fires was in the Eagle Cap Wilderness in northeast Oregon. And the helicopter drops us off at a 7000 foot cliff, and we camp for a week and sunsets and sunrises, and the helicopter brought back cargo nets full of food. And I remember fresh berry pies and everything that we ever would want on a really good camping trip. And yet we worked hard and mopped up a fire of 100 acres and herds of elk coming through, and I mean, it was just like hole, you get paid to do this. This is so much fun. So I got through college and got on an engine crew here in Oregon, the Sisters Ranger District on the Deschutes National Forest and just chasing lightning, busts little smokes. And if it got big, it was like just that adrenaline fix. And fortunate for me, in, I guess, 1992, there was a position on the Prineville Interagency Hotshot crew, and my leadership at the time on the engines, they very much supported me to pursue dreams, and so I was able to get on the primeville crew at that time. And that's kind of a very short story.

Diane Schroeder [00:09:38]:

Well, thank you for sharing. I love hearing that piece of it because I also grew up in a house with my mom, was kind of the homemaker. Even though she was a teacher, she was very much I like to call her a 50s housewife. That's what she knew. That's what she did. My dad was a volunteer firefighter and a machinist and just kind of he was a rough dude. He didn't go to war because he was the sole survivor. His dad was killed in World War II. So long story short, for me, when I decided to get in the fire service, he told me to lay down until the feeling went away.

Kim Lightley [00:10:16]:

Oh, gosh.

Diane Schroeder [00:10:20]:

I think he was just trying to look out for me. And my little bit of a rebel self also was like, yeah, but I want to do this. And so all I was exposed to was structure firefighting. Even though I grew up in Colorado, I grew up in Denver, so we didn't really explore the mountains or the wilderness. I didn't really know much about wildland firefighting at all, except for we would hear of wildfire season come through Colorado. And even then, I mean, I was a teenager and not really paying attention to the news. So it wasn't until 1994, when I had graduated from high school, that the events that happened 29 years ago from tomorrow at the time of this recording, that our paths kind of crossed in a really weird not weird way, but a unique way, and that was the South Canyon fire. And I would love for you to share what you want to share about that, your two years on the Prineville Hotshots. And I think it's also important to let my listeners know what a hotshot crew is and really how incredibly amazing hotshot crews are. You guys are badass, absolutely badass. Because while I get to ride around in a fire engine with a lot of bunker gear and go into a burning building. Occasionally your job is to, like you said, land on a 7000 foot cliff or camp for two, three weeks at a time. Not a lot of resources. You have food, but you guys are on a mountain putting out fires, is that correct?

Kim Lightley [00:12:08]:

All of the above and more. But the hotshot crew community, and obviously we have the benefit of Google these days and what is a hotshot, but really, they're highly trained firefighters and a lot of men and women. Type one, just elite, I guess, just really physically and mentally and all those attributes of a firefighter. And typically the ground troops, right? We hiked a lot. We got into very remote locations. There's different careers. Obviously, in the wildland fire community, we talk of engines, obviously, but there's helitech crews. So folks, that wild land firefighters that repel out of helicopters or we have smoke jumpers, those that jump into a fire with the parachute. And then we have the hotshots, and then we have other crews as well, type Two, whatever crews. But the hotshot crew is typically a crew of 20. However, these days they're more than that. I mean, there are 24, 25 member crews. But back in the early 90s, we could go out 21 days plus. It was very much we didn't have the luxury of cell phones or anything. I remember being on the crew and getting postcards and stamps and sending if we happened to go through a town, putting a note in the mail for my mom or dad. It was just like you didn't really expect your home, your family didn't expect to hear from you. Obviously, today it's a little bit different and that's good. The families are obviously we're more connected to our firefighters. But, yeah, the hot shut crew, so picking up pretty much where I left off in 92, getting on the crew in 93, and then 1994, the primeville crew consisted of 15 men and five women. It was a pretty robust crew. Looking back, it was just steeped with camaraderie, love, brotherhood, sisterhood. It was an amazing crew. And we were sent to California and put in some really good time on some fires in Kings Canyon Wilderness and then down in Lake Isabella in Southern California and saw some amazing explosive fire behavior and vegetation that I had never really thought fire in. Know, we're from the Northwest, so we have a lot of timber and crown. You know, in Southern Cal you have brush component and vegetation that just reacts differently, obviously, to the flames. But it was almost like glue. I mean, we were coming together. We had a couple of new gals on the crew that year, terry Hagen and Kathy Beck. And so just bringing them into the team, I guess, and then headed back to southern Oregon for another fire. And we had been gone 21 days from home, and they gave us a day off and it happened to be on July 4. And we were right next to Crater Lake National Park. And so we took showers like a luxury, right? We actually put on clean blue. Our crew was blue. Different hotshot crews have different colors, red, yellow, orange to blue, whatever. And we were blue. Our motto was the coyote. And anyway, we put our crew blue on and went to Crater Lake. And the next day we were put on a really big plane and we flew around the Northwest, picked up other hotshot crews, and we were sent to Grand Junction, Colorado, arriving on July 5, too late in the afternoon to get fire orders. And so we bedded down at a football field outside of town in Grand Junction and lots and lots of hotshots, lots of crews coming in. Colorado had been pummeled by lightning in days prior, so there was a lot of fire starts. The following morning, we get our assignment and the primeville interagency hotshots were going to head east on I 70 to a little town called Glenwood Springs, Colorado. And so we were to join up with some folks that had already been on this fire. It was a lightning strike and outside of town know, crept around for days in a brush component called Gamble Oak. And there's some pinion pine and juniper and rocky and steep. The fire hadn't really done a lot. It just crept around for days. And I believe on the morning of July 6, it was probably around 120 acres. So there were some smoke jumpers that had been on the fire. So we headed down I 70 and I remember getting to Glenwood Springs, actually out of town to the west, and seeing the South Canyon fire on Storm King Mountain. And I guess a descriptive word for you would be dirty. Very steep, rocky, dirty. It wasn't a clean burn, just the understory had burned, none of the overstory and fast forward. When we finally got on that fire in the afternoon of July 6, some of the Gamble Oak was quite tall, 1214 foot Gamble Oak. And the understory had burned, the overstory had not. And so when we arrived on the HeLa base, there was a residential area underneath the fire, the South Canyon Fire, that they had set up a helibase. So the helicopter was to transport our crew up on the fire. It was just a fast way of transporting crew. We rode in a lot of helicopters and it was a small ship or helicopter and so it could only shuttle five crew members at a time. And this one helicopter was also in charge of water drop. It would hook up to a bucket and drop water on some of the hot spots or fire runs on the mountain. And the pilot was totally busy and we were going to spike camp up on the fire. So he was also shuttling our gear up there so we could spend the night or spend the week or however long they wanted us up there. And two loads of our crew went up to this knife ridge above the west drainage. And then one of the smoke jumpers called for a bucket drop. They were having some runs up, some draws, the winds were picking up at the time and they stopped shuttling our crew. So only ten members were up there and ten members were down at this residential area at the helibay in the afternoon of July 6. Unbeknownst to a lot of us, there was a cold front moving through the area. And when a cold front moves through areas, there's winds associated with the cold front, especially on this day, there was a red flag warning issue, not for lightning necessarily, but for the winds associated with the cold front. And according to reports following the event, we didn't know that there was a red flag warning winds. And so the afternoon the winds started picking up and finally about 1500 or 03:00 in the afternoon, the remaining primeville crew was shuttled up to the knife ridge by the helicopter. And I was on the last load. So when I got off the helicopter on top of this knife ridge, it was like, well, a couple of hours earlier, the first two loads of our crew went up. They were sent down into the west drainage and it was kind of a downhill underslung line construction with some of the smoke jumpers there. And I got off the helicopter around three. It was like, oh, we're going to go down into the west drainage and join our fellow crew members who had already been down a couple hours. But the incident commander met us on the knife ridge and he said, no, we want you guys to stay up here and build a swath void of vegetation 30, 40ft wide. We have the town of Glenwood Springs to the east, and if this fire were to come out of the west drainage, we need to have a fuel know so we could stop the fire. Obviously that was the intention. So we had chainsaws and we went to work. And basically the sawyer with the chainsaw cut the brush, the Gamble Oak, and I was a swamper. And so a swamper is to clear the brush and so up the ridgeline the sawyer would go through and then I would literally just bend over, pick up a limb and throw it straight in the air. And the winds were so strong, it would just blow it into the east drainage. Winds are out of the west. And you think about the strength of the wind, and I think reports indicate 40, 45 miles per hour winds. But at the time there was no flame, right? There was no smoke that we could see. The overstory was so tall, we probably couldn't see it anyway. But the way the land, the topography, we couldn't see where the fire was or originated and so at the time, as a swamper, it was fun, right? I mean, we were having a good time just throwing the limbs up in the air. So a little bit later, I remember walking up the fire line on this knife ridge, and you have these clues, and things were going south on us, but we picked up on it. Like today. Thinking back, it's like I had long hair, and I remember being up on the ridge with the wind and my ponytail. My hair kept getting in my face. And I remember thinking at the time, this never happens. Why is my hair in my face? Because my ponytail never gets in the way, right? And then I also remember the tingling in the back of my neck. It's like, this doesn't feel right. There's something not right. And back in 94, not every member of the crew had radios, but we had six radios on the crew. We had a crew superintendent and the assistant superintendent. So those are our leaders. And they had obviously radio, and we had three squads, so three squad bosses, and they each had a radio. And then in a 20 person crew, I was number ten in line. So if we were all to dig line together as a 20 person crew, I was number ten. And so in the middle of the crew, I too had a radio, even though I didn't have any supervisory role, but I could hear things and obviously translate communication down the line. And so I heard that there was a small BLM, bureau of land management crew that was above us on this knife ridge, and they had a spot fire. And so the primeville firefighters that were on top, the hotshots that were on top of this knife ridge, we moved up. We bumped up the line to help the bureau of Land management firefighters and remember holding up right before we got up to them, and we heard some radio chatter, but the helicopter was there in the bucket of water, and it was just like, swirling. I mean, the winds are so strong now, and the flames are huge, 1500 foot tall, and the bucket was just swirling. Water was missing the spot, and it was just like crazy really fast. And at that time, we heard from one of our squad bosses, john Kelso, who was down in the west drainage, and he was calling up to our superintendent on the hotshot crew know, hey Tom, we got a spot. We got a spot, a spot across the draw. And our superintendent, who was with me, he's like, you guys better get out of there. We couldn't see down into the west drainage, but there had been a spot fire, obviously, that was being fueled not only by the gamble oak that had been preheated with all the under fire.

Kim Lightley [00:24:45]:

It was just such a coming together of a lot of factors, be it topography, be it the cold front passing, be it the wind, be it a spot fire, whatever that is. But all of that coming together created this fire inferno that literally just took off up the west drainage and took up the hill towards us, towards us on the knife ridge. And so at this time we were told to run to our safety zone that happened to be on up this knife ridge. It was an uphill escape route and it was a very lengthy escape route to a safety zone that we never met. I mean, we never achieved it. I mean we never got to it because the firefront had just exploded, like I said, up the west drainage and up the hill towards the top of the ridge. And so I just remember running. I was my 6th year in fire. It was my third year on the primeville crew. And at the time I wasn't scared. It was like strong, confident, we're going to make it to our safety zone and just running as fast as we could with the roar to our right coming we had I remember looking ahead of myself because I was up in the lead and there was these boulders, huge boulders. If you ever make it on the mountain, it's like size of Volkswagen Bug. I remember looking beyond the boulder and the fire had all, I mean, just this black smoke. Obviously you've seen plenty of time in structural, but it was just this black churning smoke and it had cut off our escape route to the safety zone. So it was like about face, 180 deg turnaround, start running back down the hill. And the reports say 200, 300 foot flame links a quarter mile wide. And here we are running down with that coming at us. And some of the accounts are firefighters turned around and they saw folks running through the wave of flame and chasing us down, literally. And so now we're running and obviously I'm not in the front anymore, I'm in the back. And I remember looking ahead of myself down this ridgeline, still strong, confident, and there was a Bureau of Land Management firefighter and I remember seeing him and he was running slow and I was shouting at him, I mean just screaming at him to run faster. And then I got to the point in which he was running slow and it was all these little stobs of gamble oak that we had just cut off. It was like running through a pegboard, right? And so then I started shouting at him, watch your putting, don't fall. So we get down into the saddle where the helicopter had just dropped us off like an hour prior because it was like 16 416, five or few minutes after 04:00 when the fire exploded and we got to the saddle. And I remember just looking for somebody, like looking for my leader, right? I was looking for somebody because we didn't know where to go. Obviously the flame was front was hitting the ridge where we were and I saw the assistant superintendent on our crew, Brian Scholes, and I remember just running right to know and it was just chaos. I mean everyone was for themselves by now. We used to know when we were going to the safety zone, we were orderly, we were in line, we were running all together and now we were just a scatter plot and running up to Brian and he said three words, he said pull your shelter. And it was as know, light switch just went off in my brain. I mean I could not process pull your shelter. We practiced before, we practiced a lot pulling shelters, but I couldn't even move to get my shelter out of my pack. And by now the flame front had reached where we were and it was dull mars containing our chainsaw, gas, they were exploding in chainsaws. I mean the fusey box was going off. I mean it was just like a war zone with that and it was so loud, right? And we moved ever so slightly into the east drainage and that's when I froze solid. It was like I was okay. I mean things almost got to a point of it wasn't quiet but I was resigned with the fact that I was going to stay there. I actually remember looking around for a place to sit down. It was know, the glow of the flames and everything was just serene. It was just this weird fire scene and this assistant, sue brian noticed I wasn't coming and he started shouting my name and he had ran a distance from me and yet he had to come back to me because I wasn't moving and he was shouting some pretty strong profanity right in my face. So imagine getting in somebody's face, he was right in my face. I remember I won't say the profanity but I will say he told me to get mad. Get mad and he started punching me in the head and it was as if the light switch came back on and I don't know if I was mad, it was that energy I guess that I needed to escape. And the brush component was so thick in that east, I remember I couldn't get through it. So I dropped to my belly and started pulling myself down into this east drainage on my belly, made it into the east drainage and it was very thick at the time with vegetation. We're talking cliffs, waterfalls, it took us like 40 minutes to escape out the east drainage. And so the state of our minds, not just my own but all of ours, we weren't together. There was a lot of firefighters scattered at various distances down the east drainage. There were some that remained high up on a plateau as long as they could. I often think back, it was snowing like embers, it was just snowfall because that column bent over because it was coming east and we were in the east drainage. And on the radio I kept hearing, are we clear? Are we clear? Do we have fire below? Because obviously if there's fire below, you in a drainage and the winds associated with this cold front, we were going to die in that drainage. We didn't know what was around the next corner. We didn't know where our crew members were. We were expecting to see them. Those that were down in the west drainage, I'm sure there was an expectation that they would be meeting us on that ridge and going down the east drainage with us. But anyway, there's a story in itself going out the east drainage, but when we finally were speaking for myself, made it to the mouth of the drainage, it intersected with I 70. And so all of a sudden you see vehicles and they're going 70 mph on this freeway and life goes on, right? And it was so weird to come out. There was an ambulance there and one of the jumpers, smoke jumpers that was down in the west drainage with the primeville crew that died, he made it out. One of them dead, one of his jumpers did, and he was being taken back to Glenwood Springs Hospital due to burns. So that ambulance was just leaving. And so obviously that's the time frame. I mean, everyone was just at different times on their escape out. And so really, that's a very short version of what happened that day. We were up on the Knife Ridge running, escaping. There was two helitech firefighters. They were connected to the helicopter and they had been on the Knife Ridge with us. And they decided not to go down into the east drainage but to skirt. They tried to outrun the fire to the north and they were caught by the fire as well. And so that night, July 6, I too ended up in the hospital that night and the assistant superintendent of our hotshot crew and I'm not sure what time it was, but he came to my bedside probably 1011 o'clock that night and he told me that we had lost the nine from Prineville, four sisters and five brothers. And there was three smoke jumpers that were with our crew down in that west drainage that died as well. And then the two Helitech boys, they had not been found yet. They were found a couple of days later. It was very difficult area in which they perished. So we lost the 14 on that.

Diane Schroeder [00:34:19]:

Wow, thank you for sharing that story. That's a lot. So thank you very much and I can't even imagine what that must have felt like for you and those moments in your life that you never know which way is going to take you. And the decision to go the route that you did saved your life. And I've hiked that trail. I hiked it in 1999 and. It kicked my butt. That was one of the hardest hikes I've ever done. And I remember going up to the memorial and just thinking how on earth, how difficult that terrain was. And I can't imagine it being on fire, and it just really scared me. I was just getting ready to go into the fire service and I was like, wow, this is very real. And it was the closest I had ever been to a fatal fire, for lack of better terms, and just wow. So after that event, you had some choices to make with your life.

Kim Lightley [00:35:32]:

I still do.

Diane Schroeder [00:35:36]:

We still do, right? Every day is a choice. But yeah, if you don't mind sharing what your choices were moving forward and how you have spent since that incident, advocating for wildland firefighters and mental health and sharing your story. And I have so much respect for you because I can't imagine that it's easy and still be this incredible badass. That your legacy and you carry the legacy of those that didn't make it that day. And I just think that's one of the most beautiful tributes you can give to someone is to honor them the way that you have.

Kim Lightley [00:36:17]:

Thank you. Those brothers and sisters that went before us on that day and then so many cents. I mean, it's your motivation, right? You get up in the morning and obviously there's not a day in my life that's gone by where they're not telling me to either put my chin up or they're yelling at me kindly. But anyway, after math was not kind for me. I didn't do good for a long I wasn't well in. I call it my decade of darkness. I'm not sure if it was a decade, but it was definitely a very dark place and we don't need to go into too much depth there. But just where I found myself, I didn't know who I was anymore. That was my love. Firefighting was what put me through college, basically. My dorm room was just plastered with fire posters and everything, and I even wore my fire boots during the school year to keep my calluses. That was who I was, right? And I loved it. Thinking back of who I was at the time when this happened, it was like this huge betrayal of something that I loved, and yet it killed me and it killed our crew. So, yeah, my spirit was very much dead for a long time and choice wasn't even I couldn't even fathom. And so I ended up leaving the US Forest Service. I tried to stay for a few years following the fire, but it was just those daily reminders. I still worked in Pineville and it was just like and so I thought, well, I ran away. I literally took another 180 turn. I made a choice to work, and this is going to sound funny, but I made a choice to work as a pharmaceutical research chemist, and I worked in a laboratory, and I wore a white lab coat and goggles, and I worked with early stage drug development in the pharmaceutical. It was a respite, in a sense, because I had to focus on something entirely different and actually use different parts of my brain and just really focus on the micro level of something. I really didn't enjoy that much. I liked the people that I worked with. Safe, but, yeah, it was safe. It was safe. But what was weird is the body, the mind, those trauma pieces. I used to say it's like a tattoo. I mean, you just can't cover it up. It's like black leg. In the Wildland Fire community, we have PPE, we have personal protection equipment. But really, the soot, the ash, I mean, it gets in your pores, in your legs, arms, and everything. And so I remember when I was little on the fire, I'd come home at night, my mom would look at me and give me a can of Comet and a toughie. It's like ghost. We'll get cleaned up. You can't get the black out of your pores. I mean, it's in there, right? And so trauma pieces, it's in there. I mean, it's in my pores. It's in my fiber of who I am and at the cellular level.

Diane Schroeder [00:39:53]:

Kimberly, thank you so much for sharing your story, and I think this is a great place to pause and then continue your story on another episode for part two. Thank you for giving the valuable gift of your time and listening to The Fire inside her podcast. Speaking of value, one of the most common potholes we fall into on the journey to authenticity is not recognizing our value. So I created a workbook. It's all about value. Head on over to Value to get your free workbook that will help you remember your value. Until next time, my friend.