Evacuated Students Return to Woodman School - ABC FOX MONTANA NEWS, WEATHER, SPORTS - KTMF/KWYB

Evacuated Students Return to Woodman School

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LOLO CREEK -

Tuesday marked a very special return to school for 43 students who attend Woodman School, which was almost lost in the Lolo Creek Complex fire.

Woodman is a K-8 school, located nine miles west of Lolo, and is run by just six teachers.

Teachers said the fire burned right up to the northern edge of the school grounds, just 50 yards from buildings.

Woodman 8th grader Markie Kimerly said she and her family quickly moved their 14 horses and other animals off their ranch on the south side of Highway 12 when the fire swept onto their property.

"I was worried I wouldn't have a school to come back to and I'd have to go to Lolo," she said.

Woodman teachers said nearly all 43 students had to evacuate with their families two weeks ago, but none lost their homes.

"The fire, it was going really slow in our backyard, like right on our mountain, we were scared that we had to evacuate and people would lose their houses and everything," said 4th grader Chayselyn Paulson.

Paulson said she also worried about her classmates who live near Lolo Creek, and about her school.

"I just was really sad and I didn't want to go to any other school," Paulson said.

Both Kimerly and Paulson said Woodman's small size and remote location make their classmates more like family.

Kimerly said, "It definitely is unique, the setting... and it would be a big loss."

"It's small, it has cows surrounding it…" added Paulson.

"The evacuation I think really scared them, they are glad to be back at school, I think structure is good," said Michelle Macintire, a Woodman teacher.

Macintire has been teaching at Woodman for 15 years, and she said her 3rd and 4th graders are still talking about the fire fighters and equipment -- which was parked in some of their front yards.

"And they were asking if it was a back burn, or if was an actual fire, so they learned a lot about fire, which I think is really good," Macintire said.

Teachers said their evacuation plan includes calling the surrounding ranches, and Lolo School officials, who would drive a bus out to Woodman.

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