Colorado Wildfires

One of the worst Colorado wildfires in state history at the time, this photo was taken by my husband in a safe zone at the outbreak of the Hayman Fire, in which my family and I were ordered to immediately evacuate our home.

The Waldo Canyon Fire, which started in June, 2012, was the most destructive wildfire in state history.  Sadly, 2 people lost their lives and 347 homes were destroyed.  Cause has yet to be determined.

However, as of June, 2013, the Black Forest Fire is now the most destructive wildfire in Colorado history, claiming 2 lives, destroying 500+ homes and 16,000+ acres.  Cause of the fire is unknown at this time.

Colorado wildfires are devastating.  Having been affected by the above Hayman Fire in 2002, I can tell you that wildfires are a traumatic event for man and beast.

Dry conditions over the winter, gusty winds with no moisture during spring and early summer, and human causation are the culprits of wildfires. 

Through Colorado's history, fires have been always been a disaster.

For example, in the early 1800's when Denver was first being built, a fire raged through the town destroying most of it.

Not helping was the fact the town was built of wood.  After careful thought into the rebuilding after the Denver Fire, brick and stone was used.

Cripple Creek, late 1800's, found the town burning not once, but twice.

Wood used for construction was replaced by stone and brick for rebuilding.

Many people were killed in these fires, grasslands and forests surrounding the towns were caught up in the Colorado wildfires as well.

Our Race to Outrun a Colorado Wildfire

If you haven't experienced Colorado wildfires out of control, I will relate our tale of horror during the Hayman Fire.

My husband took this photo as he was loading up the car to evacuate.  The smoke plume and flames were not far from our home.

June, 2002.  The winter and spring had been warm and dry.  No moisture to speak of and the state was a tinder box.

I was working in a Cripple Creek casino when my cage manager came to me and told me to go home immediately.

A wildfire was threatening our area and people were forced to evacuate.

I drove home like a bat, flashers going and speeding along the winding mountain road.

When I got home, the smoke was so thick I couldn't breathe.  Jim was dragging out our possessions and I started loading them into the SUV.

The dogs were in an panic as were we.  We didn't have a plan of where to go, so while Jim was loading, I got on the phone and called motels in the area to see if they could help us and if they accepted pets.

I was coughing the whole time while I was on the phone with one manager, who told me they didn't accept pets, sorry.

"Where can we go? The fire is coming at us!" I cried.

Bless this woman.  She told us to pack up and come to her motel with the dogs and she would sort it out later.

We drove to the Gold King Motel in Cripple Creek, where the welcome was heartfelt.

The manager and staff couldn't do enough for all of us evacuees.  They gave all of us with pets the bottom floor and only charged half price for rooms.

This was our home for the next two weeks.  Jim would go to the command post every day with others who had evacuated to get a status report.

At one time, it looked like our home and others would be destroyed.

A Higher Power was looking out for us, because when the fire came within a mile of our area, the wind shifted and blew it back on itself.

In the end, about 300 homes were destroyed by the fire and thousands of acres burned.

Even all these years later, driving the Hayman burn area makes me sick to my stomach.  All due to one person's stupidity.

Yes, this devastating wildfire was caused by one individual, who should have known better.

The panic, loss, and despair we all felt was a real physical thing.  If you haven't experienced a wildfire, then you don't know what I'm talking about.

Those that have, will.

A wildfire has a mind of its own.  It creates its own weather system within.  The fire can be on a straight path then suddenly veer off and quickly race up a mountain with the force of a runaway locomotive, destroying everything in its path.

I implore our visitors to the state to Please, Please be careful with your campfires, grills, smoking, anything that has to do with fire.  Don't be responsible for any Colorado wildfires.

Imagine someone burning down your home.  Just because they disregarded the fire bans and weren't going to have their good time ruined.

This is our home.  We live, work and play here.  Many have lived in the mountains for generations.

We enjoy our visitors.  Please treat our home like it was your own.

UPDATE: As of this writing, beginning of fall 2014, cool temps and afternoon showers during the summer have kept our wildfire season low this year.  Hopefully winter will bring lots of snow to help us out next year.

June, 2013 was the worst month for fires.  The two largest were, the Black Forest Fire that burned in northeast Colorado Springs and the Royal Gorge Fire, at the park.

The Black Forest Fire burned about 15,000 acres and destroyed 500+ homes.  Two people died trying to evacuate.  This is the most destructive wildfire in Colorado history.

The Royal Gorge Fire burned 3100 acres and destroyed 48 structures.  The buildings were in the Park itself and a small part of the bridge was damaged.

July and August 2013, the monsoon rains flooded the Waldo Canyon burn scar with flash floods in along Ute Pass and in Manitou Springs.  Two people lost their lives in the August flood. Unfortunately, flooding will be the norm for years to come.

And always:
GOD BLESS all the firefighters who put themselves in danger to save people and property.

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