Yesterday afternoon Matthew agreed to watch the baby while I went out to get a pedicure. It was amazing and just the relaxation I needed. The television at the salon was running live coverage on the forest fire. It was all the same information that we had been getting for the past 24 hours; 3,500 acres burnt, no one hurt, no structures damaged, 5% contained… Everything seemed calm.
That evening I was getting Dragon Egg ready for bed and changing his diaper. I just happened to turn on the radio (hoping to enjoy a few tunes) and instead of hearing music, there were emergency broadcasts taking place. As I listened, we were informed that Flying W Ranch had burned down and the surrounding homes were on fire. Colorado Springs was officially in a state of emergency and they were evacuating all homes in NW Springs from Garden of the Gods to the northern city limits. (everything west of I-25)
That area includes about 32,000 people. As you can see by the pictures, the fire went crazy and started spreading uncontrollably. The firemen reported that they had been putting up protective barriers between the fire and the city for days and in a matter or hours the fire had spread through those barriers and continued burning.
The cause of the sudden spreading of fire was due to a thunderstorm that developed west of the city. That caused winds up to 65 mph to spark the fire.
We decided to reflect on what was most important in our life: our Faith, each other, our son, and our dog, Anora. We then triaged the rest of our possessions. We prepacked for evacuation should that become necessary and loaded the car with a few essentials. Just waiting, not knowing exactly what was going on was definitely inducing some anxiety. So Matthew and I decided to pack up Dragon Egg and Anora and go see the fire. I know this probably wasn’t the safest idea, but this is history in the making, so we took the small risk. We live in SW Springs and since we had our house packed, we decided to go see what was really taking place.
We were able to drive into some of the evacuated areas of Garden of the Gods (before it was blocked off by the police) and see the mountain side on fire. It was horrific. Words cannot express how sad and scary it was to see the fire eating away at the mountain. We were parked near Glen Eyrie Castle and saw the fire in their backyard. (I haven’t heard about any damage that the castle has sustained.)
The reports this morning say that over 100 homes have burned, the fire has spread to consume 15,000 acres of land, 800 firemen are working to contain the fire, and with record heat and low humidity again today, we sit and pray for respite. Thunderstorms are predicted for this evening and while we need the rain desperately, it may cause more problems. The wind is very dangerous and can move the fire in unpredictable ways. Also there are places called “burn scars”. A burn scar is an area of land where the fire has burned and, because of the fire damage, the ground absorbs moisture poorly. If those spots get rain, this can cause flash flooding.
So here we are… our house is packed, our ears tuned into the local news station, waiting to see what happens next. More reports of evacuations have come in, but things seem to have slowed momentarily. They’re telling those that have evacuated that it could be days before they can return to their homes. There are shelters all over the city taking in those suddenly homeless. The governor of Colorado arrived last night to evaluate the needs of the city.
And so we wait… and pray for respite.