True Tales of Survival

Man Survives 7 Hours in Washington Wildfire

A Washington wildfire nearly claimed the life of Mark Desdier in mid-August.

The 62-year-old was in his Okanogan County cabin near Omak when things got dangerous fast. The Washington native was in the midst of trying to save neighbors in nearby cabins around 4 p.m. on Aug. 21 during the natural disaster before his own life was in peril.

A large gust of wind up to 50 miles per hour pushed a nearby wildfire down Cave Mountain, leaving Mark with a limited escape plan.

Thinking fast on his feet, Mark sped on his four-wheeler to the nearest way out. He hit a bank in the overwhelming heat and blinding debris. His ATV flipped, but luckily landed back on its wheels. At that moment in the Washington wildfire, Mark was able to use the lake as a means to survive the disaster. He later encountered a nearby dock that helped him stay afloat … shielding himself from hazardous debris.

While the resourceful man made it out of the water, he spent seven hours sheltered in an alfalfa hay farm building that was owned by some people he’d met earlier that night. After waiting a while longer, Mark was rescued by firefighters who then transferred him to Omak Hospital since he sustained several injuries and burns.

As the wildfire played out during Mark’s ordeal, his wife, Janet, thought he’d died.

Janet is amazed at the skills her husband used in order to survive the harrowing natural disaster. Mark says that is ability to stay calm and focused in the potentially fatal situation is what helped him. He learned the value of these skills when he attended fire academies while working with the Washington State Ferries for 30 years.

Wildfires over the summer had claimed the lives of three U.S. Forest Service firefighters, injured four, and destroyed 200 homes in the process.

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Heather Tooley is a news contributor who stays current on trending headlines and stories of survival in the midst of natural disasters and tragedies.