Fires

A California couple wed with a massive wildfire burning behind them. Then, they ran

People at the wedding of Ellie and Taylor Denney run as an evacuation order is issued for the Klamathon Fire in the community of Hornbrook on Saturday, July 7, 2018.
People at the wedding of Ellie and Taylor Denney run as an evacuation order is issued for the Klamathon Fire in the community of Hornbrook on Saturday, July 7, 2018.

Evacuate or tie the knot?

That was the dilemma facing one Northern California couple this weekend, as the massive and destructive Klamathon Fire raged not far from a wedding venue built specifically for their nuptials.

The end result was a ceremony that will likely prove unforgettable to all in attendance.

As documented by photographers Dee and Kristina Robinson of Dee and Kris Photography, Ellie and Taylor Denney wed in a hurried outdoor ceremony in Hornbrook. Meanwhile, an unpredictable blaze raged in the not-so-distant background.

"The vendors rushed to load whatever they could as the couple said ‘I DO’, they kissed and everyone RAN," Dee and Kris wrote.

In a Facebook comment, Dee and Kris called the affair "terrifying," but they also noted that fire crews were aware of the situation and gave the go-ahead. 

"When we started running, we saw the cabin across the river go up like a matchbox," Taylor Denney told local NBC affiliate KOBI 5.

Shifting winds picked up right as the rushed ceremony ended, after starting about 90 minutes early, the Robinsons wrote, and the official evacuation order came just as Ellie Denney's father gave her away.

Despite remarkable images and words of support, some users on Facebook criticized the decision to go forward with the wedding. "Kind of silly to put your life and everyone else's lives in danger," one person commented. "Weddings can be rescheduled, lives can't."

In this case, though, nobody was hurt during the swift evacuation.

Ellie Denney's parents built cabins in Hornbrook "with the desire to have them built in time to host their daughter’s wedding," the Robinsons wrote.

The Denney couple renewed their vows just a few hours after tying the knot, at an impromptu second ceremony at a Holiday Inn in Yreka.

As of Monday morning, the Klamathon Fire had charred more than 35,000 acres, destroyed 81 structures, killed one civilian and injured three firefighters. Sparking over the weekend in Siskiyou County, the fast-growing fire has been fought for at least 2,300 fire personnel. 

Mandatory evacuation orders were still in effect for the communities of Hornbrook, Hilt, Colestin and Iron Gate Reservoir as of Monday, with Jackon Street Elementary School designated as the evacuation center, according to Cal Fire.

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