The Buckweed fire changed a number of lives in 2007, and as the flames rushed through Bouquet Canyon Jim Tindell’s fate would forever be altered.
Tindell, who was the caretaker of Heads Up Therapy on Horseback, saw the flames come over the hill and quickly evacuated his wife and children.
He then raced to free the horses from their pens. The perfect combination of low humidity and high winds drove the flames through the ranch at amazing speeds, forcing Tindell to run to escape them.
Despite suffering severe burns to his hands and face he ran down Bouquet Canyon Road to seek help.
“The fire kept following me,” Tindell recounts. “The wind picked up and it was so strong it kept knocking me down.”
Through the choking smoke, fire and wind he found a forestry truck on the side of the road and was quickly rushed to an ambulance and eventually to Grossman Burn Center in Sherman Oaks.
He spent the next four months recovering from his injuries, being released on February 18, 2008.
The transition back to home life was a difficult one for Tindell.
“The four months I was in the hospital our lives were kind of destroyed,” said Tindell. “When I got out of the hospital I had to build up a rapport with my kids again, they weren’t use to having a dad.”
An organization that Tindell credits with “helping tremendously,” during his recovery and when he returned home, was the Santa Clarita Disaster Coalition.
“They would call and just check up on me and my family every so often,” he said.
The SCVDC is designed as a second responder during disasters, helping to fill the gaps left after a disaster happens.
“There were no agencies to fill the holes left after a big disaster,” said Carl Goldman, chair of the SCVDC. “We come in and act as a field manager offering financial support and emotional support.”
The Tindell’s home was destroyed by the fire but they were able to move into his father-in-law’s home.
Their new home needed work so the SCVDC teamed up with Habitat for Humanity and the Southern California Gas Company to help renovate it.
“It’s a very good feeling to know that there are people that are out there who will help you out when a disaster happens like that,” said Tindell. “It makes you feel good about this community and the people in it.”
Jim Tindell is retired now and spends his days doing yard work, picking up his kids from school and all the things that come with being retired.
He and his wife have plans to move to Oregon where they hope to start a small organic farm, but Tindell says they’re going to wait until their kids are finished with school.
He is also starting a new hobby, one that his late father shared with him, restoring antique guns. His father passed on a few flint lock guns that his grandfather used when he was a boy in Tennessee.