Story: The Ziperer Family

Arizona Wildfires 2013


For four-year-old Nicolas Zipperer and his little sister, Salma, moving into the gymnasium at Yavapai Community College is an adventure. There are other youngsters to play with, toys they haven’t seen before, even a stuffed animal for each child.

But for their mother, Mary, evacuation to an American Red Cross shelter is a mixed blessing. She’s profoundly grateful for a safe place to stay, but anxious about what faces her family when the Yarnell Hill wildfire is finally tamed.

While most of her neighbors in Peeple’s Valley, Ariz., went to stay with family or friends when the authorities told them they had to evacuate, “We’ve only lived her six months. We don’t know anybody here,” Mary said.

While her husband goes to work each day, Mary looks after Nic, Salma and their six-month-old baby sister as well as her husband’s uncle, whose medical condition is aggravated by smoke thrown up by the massive fire.

She clings to her faith that their home will be spared. But in the meantime, she appreciates that her children are happily unaware of the fire and that Red Cross volunteers are on hand to cheer her.

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