WILLOW, AK (July 21, 2015) — A month after her three-bedroom home was destroyed by a wildfire, Covenanter Mary Helwig says, “I can’t explain why I have such a good attitude about it all. Prayers are being answered. I have been experiencing God’s peace beyond understanding.”
Helwig’s comments appeared in an Alaska Dispatch News article written by fellow Covenanter Laureli Ivanoff.
When she got word that she had to evacuate her home immediately, Helwig, who is a competitive musher, gathered up several belongings and her dogs. She planned to stay at the home of a friend, Kristin Bacon.
En route, she and Bacon, who had helped her pack up, stopped to help others evacuate. Another musher was out of town, so they loaded up his sled dogs and got them out. Once they arrived at her friend’s house, Helwig went back to assist other neighbors in Willow, which is located about 80 miles north of Anchorage.
“We got 80 dogs out, working until 4 in the morning,” she says.
The Sockeye Wildfire—named for the street in Willow near where it started—eventually covered more than 7,200 acres and destroyed more than 50 residences.
Helwig thought her home would be safe, but her house was reduced to ashes. She is planning to build a garage with an apartment as well as four dog houses, saying, “As long as the dogs have a home and water, we’re good to go.”
Helwig is looking to the future beyond. Less than two weeks after the fire, she attended a picnic in Wasilla and was the thirtieth person to sign up to race in the 2016 Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race next March.
“If I can get myself through this disaster, I’ll feel that much more prepared to handle the difficulties of the trail,” she says. “There will be difficulties.”