Scott Tajchman and his family, who live 5 miles north of Hutchinson, found themselves fleeing from their home last week as a wildfire threatened.
The son of the late Valerian and Teresa Tajchman grew up at Ramona. His mother still lives on the farm.
The Tajchmans’ 15-year-old son returned from school at 7 p.m. March 7 and reported seeing a glow in the sky near their farm.
“I looked out and saw the orange on the horizon and told everyone to get ready to leave,” Scott Tajchman said.
He had helped with controlled burns while growing up in Marion County, so he wasn’t too shaken up. He kept the family calm while they were planning to evacuate.
They quickly packed up their five children, two cats, and two dogs, and fled in a van and car but not before turning on their lawn sprinklers.
The Tajchmans keep two free-ranging cows on their 22-acre property. A cattle guard at the entrance prevents the cows from getting out.
The couple had been watering the lawn for several weeks to provide grass for the cows, so it was lush and green.
After they arrived at Danielle’s parents’ home in Hutchinson, they received a video from a neighbor who used his phone to film the wildfire sweeping through their place. They were so sure they had lost their home that they told their children it was gone, to cushion the shock.
But, lo and behold, when Tajchman went to check at 11 p.m. that evening, the house and yard were still there, although surrounded by charred black soil. Not only that, but the cows were standing in the green grass.
They found out later that two Riley County firefighters arrived at their house shortly after they left and soaked everything with water. In a video they took, one firefighter said, “Trying to save this house, I think it’s a goner.”
“So, sure, our silly cows and our wet lawn helped, but these two are the real heroes to whom we will be forever grateful,” Danielle Tajchman said. “They saved not only our home but the tens of other ones that would not be standing otherwise.”
The family did lose several outbuildings, including two barns storing alfalfa, a chicken barn, storage shed, and dog barn. Some baby chicks were unharmed.
They were allowed to move back into their home Thursday evening.