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Wildfire evacuations interrupt wedding plans


By Spencer Blake

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    STRAWBERRY, Arizona (KPHO) — Many evacuees fleeing the Backbone Fire near Pine and Strawberry or the Wyrick Fire near Heber-Overgaard headed to Payson to escape the flames. As people watch, hope and pray their homes will be spared, Arizona’s Family has heard some stories of hope from the evacuations.

The wedding rehearsal dinner for Trace Wallace and Kylee Egbert was going beautifully at Cabins on Strawberry Hill on Friday, June 18, but not for long. “We were in the middle of rehearsal when I believe the owner of the cabins came running and screaming at us, telling us we needed to go now,” said Jackie Wallace, mother of the groom. “It was kind of chaotic. Everybody ran. We had all our stuff in the cabins and just grabbed everything we could remember and got outta there.”

The evacuation status changed from “Set” to “Go” in a matter of 10 or 15 minutes. Mike Wallace, the father of the groom, was relieved everyone left safely. In hindsight, he and Jackie laughed about how, in their hurry, they left behind things like Jackie’s brand-new wedding shoes and a fridge full of booze. “I was more worried for Trace and Kylee, that they weren’t going to get married,” Mike said.

Everyone in the party headed down to Payson to the Egberts’ home. After some discussion, the bride and groom decided the wedding would still happen the next day – right there in Kylee’s backyard. Suddenly, it became a community event with community help. Friends and family picked up trellises from the hardware store to build an archway. Churches in town offered their tables and chairs, and the high school lent tablecloths for the occasion. “One year of planning a wedding? Who needs it when you have four hours to plan Plan B?” Mike said.

By the end of the day Friday, everything was pretty much ready to go. After some additional decorations on Saturday, Trace and Kylee got married after all – on June 19 – the same day they planned on all along. “It went off without a hitch,” Jackie said. “It was the most beautiful wedding, and it couldn’t have been better at any other place.”

“They’re probably already looking back and laughing at it because it’s turned out so well,” Mike said. The newlyweds made it on their honeymoon to Seattle, knowing that not even a raging wildfire could stop their true love.

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