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HORNBROOK, Calif. — Amidst the smoke and rapidly approaching flame of the Klamathon Fire, Ellie Parsons and Taylor Denney stood before a small group of close family and friends, saying their vows.
According to wedding photographers Dee and Kris, the Parsons family had built their cabins on property near the community of Hornbrook for the express reason of hosting their daughter's wedding. "They worked tirelessly weeks leading up to the wedding day," the photographers said in statement.
When the Klamathon Fire suddenly rolled into Hornbrook last Thursday, spreading exponentially in a matter of hours, those carefully made plans appeared to be in jeopardy.
On the designated wedding day—Saturday, July 7—the Parsons land still stood unburnt, though the Klamathon Fire raged in the distance. Instead of abandoning or postponing their plans, the couple went ahead with the wedding.
The couple's family had evacuation plans in place and were keeping in contact with CAL FIRE crews to ensure that they were safe. With the winds fortunately low for a while, CAL FIRE gave their blessing to go ahead with the ceremony.
"It wasn't until the couple's first look when we saw signs that the day may have to change," said Dee and Kris.
Even as the wedding organizers were setting up for the ceremony, plumes of dark smoke were emanating from the ridge across the river.
"We wanted to get as many pictures as possible before orders came down to evacuate so we rushed their romance pictures and shot their wedding party portraits," said Dee and Kris.
With the wedding's official start time still an hour and a half out, the fathers of Parsons and Denney made the decision to hold the wedding immediately with the family and friends already in attendance. The couple wanted to share their vows on the family's land, the photographers said.
Just as Parsons' father gave her away to Denney, the word came down to evacuate.
"The vendors rushed to load whatever they could as the couple said ‘I DO’, they kissed and everyone RAN. The flames were rushing for the river as the winds were picking up speed. Vendors and family left belongings as there wasn’t time to safely gather everything," said Dee and Kris.
The wind begin to rise, sending a curtain of smoke and flame toward the river. However, even as the wedding party beat a hasty retreat from the property, fire crews swept in—reportedly saving everything on the Parsons plot.
"They went above and beyond and everyone was grateful. The couple re-said their vows at the local Yreka Holiday Inn so that they could not only revel in their promise to each other but so the rest of their guests could witness their nuptials. The night ended with dancing, great food and much love," said Dee and Kris.
You can view the couple's full wedding album from Dee and Kris Photography here.