Saturday, June 23, 2012

Colorado Fires

I am very distracted tonight.  I have been watching the news continuously since about 4:00 today because there is a fire near Colorado Springs that has caused over a thousand homes to be evacuated in Colorado Springs.  Thankfully, as of this evening, the fire itself has not crested the ridge that separates the town of Colorado Springs from the mountain areas where the fire is now 0% contained.  Not only are the small towns that line Ute Pass or Highway 24 west of Colorado Springs all evacuated or are on voluntary evacuation, but also many homes are evacuated right in the town if Colorado Springs.  None of these populated areas are on fire now, but evacuation is mandatory because of how quickly the fire can spread depending on the wind direction.

The photo below is an amazing photo that was taken of the fire earlier today from the top of Pikes Peak.  You can see Colorado Springs in the distance.  Some of you may remember that Katherine Lee Bates was inspired to write  "America the Beautiful" when she saw this same view from the top of Pikes Peak.  She wrote the following about the experience that led to her penning the words for this song, "One day some of the other teachers and I decided to go on a trip to 14,000-foot Pikes Peak. We hired a prairie wagon. Near the top we had to leave the wagon and go the rest of the way on mules. I was very tired. But when I saw the view, I felt great joy. All the wonder of America seemed displayed there, with the sea-like expanse." photo
This photo was taken by someone on top of Pikes Peak about 2:30 today

I have no idea how many fires are now burning in Colorado.  As of this afternoon, the one near Colorado Springs is a new wildfire for the state  After beginning around 1:00 p.m., by 8:00 p.m.,  the fire spread to 2,000 acres.  Fighting the fire is a challenge because of:  terrain, wind, and heat.  The terrain is very steep, and there are many big boulders.  The fire loosens the boulders and causes even more dangerous conditions for those who try to fight the fire on foot.  The wind has been blowing, but it has now calmed down some. This does not mean that the winds will not pick up again.  Thankfully, the temperatures are now going down, but records were broken today with 100 degree heat in Colorado Springs.  (It was 108 at our house in Pueblo.)  The hillsides are incredibly dry.  We have had little rain, and we had little snow this winter.  The forecast is for more heat tomorrow, and there is no forecast for rain.

My cousin Donna who has a cabin west of this fire has been under mandatory evacuation since last Sunday because of a fire known as the Springer Fire that was burning near her cabin.  (I wrote a blog post about Donna which you can read if you clink here.)  She was just allowed to go back to her cabin today.  She literally just got up to the cabin before today's fire broke out about 30 miles away from her cabin.  Thankfully the fires in her area were contained.  This freed up firefighters for the Waldo Canyon fire near Colorado Springs.

She is safe; there is no threat to the area where she is living at this time.  She was looking forward to spending the summer in the cool mountain air of Colorado by living in the cabin her father built in the early 70's. She lives in the Phoenix area during the rest of the year.  Last summer we had a great family reunion at her cabin.  We have plans for another one this year in July at the same cabin.  Many of my family have built cabins in this area over the years.  Many family memories have been made in the area around my cousin's cabin.  Thankfully, that area is safe at this time, and Donna is back home in her cabin.

This photo shows how much of the area is surrounded by trees.  Unfortunately, the ground under the trees was very dry even last year.  It is worse this year.

My brother and his wife visiting a cousin's husband
Donna's cabin - 2011
Wagon Tongue, Colorado

Two cousins I had not seen in many years attended the gathering.
Barbara, on the left, works has worked at the gate on the highway that goes to the top of Pikes Peak.
She has worked there for years.
Her brother is the forest ranger stationed at the top of Pikes Peak.
Family Reunion
2011 at Donna's cabin
(Donna is in the green/blue top  She is the first person seated on the second row.)
Our roots go deep in the Colorado Springs area.  Our family is rare in that those of us in my generation are third generation natives of El Paso County in Colorado.  We grew up driving up and down Ute Pass near where the fire started.  We spent many happy summer days as children not far from this area in Victor, Colorado where our grandparents had a summer home.  Four generations have worked on the top of Pikes Peak.  My brother's grandson is working up there this summer.  We have never seen anything like this.  No fire has ever threatened our beloved mountain areas surrounding Colorado Springs.

My mother who is 96 years old lived in Woodland Park as a child.  Woodland Park, a small mountain town set at the foot of Pikes Peak,  is just about 20 miles from where today's fire broke out.  When she was just a small child, I think she was only about five years old, she watched her family home burn to ground in the middle of winter.  It is one of her earliest memories.  They lost everything they had.  All through my childhood, I remember hearing stories about this fire and how it marked my mother's life.  All of the precious photos which they saved are singed.  These scorched, treasured family portraits are grim reminders of the devastation of the fire my mother and her parents experienced.  These were the only things that were saved.  Today, as I spoke with my mother about the fire burning in the area so close to her childhood home, she said, "Fire is a terrible thing."  I just saw a photo the night sky lit up by the bright red flames burning west of Colorado Springs.  I was shocked.  It looks life the world is on fire.  That is fire, not the sun setting!

Photo by:  Kristen Bennett of Wildflower Photography

We are praying for all those who are affected by this wildfire.  We pray for those who have been evacuated from their home.  We pray for safety for those fighting the fire.  We pray that no lives or structures are lost.  We are praying for rain, no wind, and cooler temperatures.  Dear blogging friends, please join me in praying for a quick end of this fire.


Susan said...

Oh dear. That is a most horrendous fire. I'm so sorry to read that your Mom experience the devastation of fire first hand. Yes, I will pray for a quick end to the fires and for the people who lost their homes. May the Lord bless them (and us) all. Susan p.s. Thanks for your visit to my blog and for the comment, too. Loved hearing from you.

Dr. Kathy McCoy said...

Wildfires are so terrifying and destructive. I've seen more than my share of them in Southern California. But the current fires -- especially in Colorado -- are so devastating. I hope you and Donna and the rest of your family stay out of harm's way and that the various fires get under control soon.

Teresa Evangeline said...

I have many wonderful memories of that area, having traveled there several times over the years. My brother and his family spent most of their lives in the Springs. He now lives in Pueblo West.

I remember Manitou Springs as such a great little town, as was Victor. Beauty and history throughout that whole area west of the Springs.

What a frightening photo of the fire. My prayers and best thoughts for rain and calm.

Beth said...

My thoughts and prayers are with you all. Stay safe.

Jeanie said...

I'm glad your cousin is safe for now. I am certainly praying for this fire and all those burning in our state to be out soon.
We can smell smoke here this morning. I just heard there are more evacuations from the Waldo fire. I pray for all those suffering from these fires and for the horror of the fires to be over soon.

DJan said...

I love Colorado, and I am so sad for all who are affected by these fires. You have my sincere thoughts and prayers. So scary. :-(

Chatty Crone said...

Oh my goodness I am so sorry about your mother. And the fires that others are contending with out there. We have a woman at church that's son flies planes to dump the red dust that puts fires out. We are always praying for him too. So prayers for the fires.

And you look like you had a wonderful reunion.


"Auntie" sezzzzzz... said...

We read/hear the news. But when someone we blog with, lives near it, it really puts a face on the news.

So sad....

But such wonderful family gathering photos!

Gentle hugs,

rosaria williams said...

Sending thoughts for rain and for a safe evacuation of all concerned. Mother Nature has been tested this year. This must be such a tragic situation for so many people.
Sending our best wishes your way.

Lynilu said...

Gosh, I can really relate to this. The whole Rocky Mountain Range is so very, dangerously dry. Our fire is 90% contained, thank goodness, and I'm comfortably back home, but it is so frightening to go through evacuation and watching the sky. I hope your fires lead to fewer homes lost than ours. I don't know how long it will take for most of us to feel safe again. Sending my heart hugs to you and your family.

Mare said...

My thoughts and prayers are with everyone in danger. As well as those who are close to it and understandably stressed. The firefighters are angels on earth. The news said that a person doing target practice was responsible for one of the fires when the bullet hit something that caused a spark which started a fire. Wow.
In 1976, on a cross country trip, we drove up Mt Evans circular Drive and the hairpin turns were very scary. At the top was a beautiful lake and thin air that we were very unfamiliar with and we certainly had to get a grip on breathing. Last year my son went to Pikes Peak and bought a new camera on the trip to return to the top and try to capture the beauty of it all.
Mother as well as peril.
Hope you and yours remain safe throughout this experience and that the firepeople are able to get it contained.

Rita said...


agingabundantly said...

My thoughts are with all of you. My best friend and her family live in CS and she is keeping me posted. Such beautiful country. Nature is as cruel as it is beautiful and kind.

Jackie said...

I certainly will join you in this prayer. I'm glad that Donna was able to get back to her home...and that it was safe. Please, keep us posted, and know that you have a friend here in South Georgia who is praying for an end to these devastating fires.
Take care of you.

Barb said...

Sally, I thought of you as soon as Bob told me there was a fire threatening Colorado Springs. We are currently smelling smoke and seeing ash falling here in Breckenridge from the Treasure fire near Leadville in the Mosquito Range. Also, an arsonist has set several fires the past 2 weeks in wilderness areas close to where we live in Breckenridge. The conditions - dryness, wind, and heat are making fire danger extremely high throughout the state. Stay safe. We are prepared to evacuate if necessary.

Kay said...

We've been watching this fire from Hawaii and it truly is a terrible sight to behold. We are all keeping you in our thoughts and prayers. That last photo is really terrifyingly amazing.

Dee said...

Dear Sally, thank you so much for your very personal relating of what is happening with the wildfires out in Colorado. I watch on the news but that's not personal and doesn't bring home to me the tragedy of all this as your posting done. Of course I'll be praying. Peace.

Cape Cod Kitty said...

Thank you for the heartfelt post on your dear CO and roots there. The fires are all so tragic on so many levels. I talked with my sister in Lafayette last night and she was without power for the 2nd time in several days. Not sure why but with temps at 102 it wastough, but she was more concerned about all the fires....especially those in Estes Park and in Manitou Springs. Certainly hoping the fires do not consume Garden of the Gods. Such a beautiful treasure.
My sister said her house has been filled with smoke, making it hard to breathe. Sure hope you and yours can all remain safe and that rain will come soon.
Blessings and prayers to you all.

Oregon Gifts of Comfort and Joy said...

Here it is, Monday already. I hope that you guys are doing okay. I was just listening to the news tell about this fire. Praying for you and your family, Sally. Hugs.

Kathy M.

Arkansas Patti said...

How odd that such a terrible thing could photograph so beautifully. Quite deceptive.
I have been praying for all those in harms way. Those who are owners with a lifetimes worth of treasures in danger and those who are on the front lines fighting this beast.
I also pray that you and your family stay safe.

Jackie said...

Sally...I left a comment earlier regarding this post and regarding the fire. I don't know where it (comment) went, but I'm going to try again. I am so sorry to hear about the fires in Colorado. I am praying for all who are involved...the families that have been displaced, and the ones who are fighting the fires.
Hugs and love to you, my friend.

Friko said...

My very best wishes and prayers are with you for a safe outcome.

This sort of thing is unknown here; in a very hot summer we may have small forest fires but England is usually to wet for fires to get hold.

This sort of drama is terrifying. Stay safe.

Friko said...

did my comment arrive? I'm not sure.

Teresa Coltrin@Journaling Woman said...

I've been praying. So sad to have to fear the fire and to see homes and nature destroyed by nature.


Joyce said...

So sad to think of all the homes and beautiful scenery that has been lost. Praying they end quickly and for those who are battling these fires.

LC said...

I have been away from computer for awhile but have been sending prayers for you and yours. Today I was relieved to see your post. Prayer continuing.

And your memories, early and more recent, provide an even stronger connection to this "spacious skies" region of our country.

Jean said...

I've been thinking about and worrying about the folks in the Colorado Springs area for several days, what terrible devastation. Please update us on the situation there.

Jeanie said...

The fires have weighed heavily on my mind too, having many Colorado friends. And even if I didn't -- no one should have to deal with this. I send prayers and good thoughts for all your family and all those affected.

Linda Myers said...

I've been thinking about you Colorado people. Hopefully the fires will be put out very, very soon.