Tuesday, November 5, 2013

One Long, Hot Week of Summer

The first month I lived in Colorado, the Waldo Canyon Fire broke out. It was fascinating to watch - I had never seen a wild fire before. It broke the ridge on a Tuesday afternoon and came racing down the front face of the mountains, going so fast that you could literally monitor its progress down the hill in minutes.

Waldo Canyon Fire from my office window
It was amazing and destructive, and a bit upsetting. That being said, I was safe - the fire wasn't going to cross I-25 and get to my office or to the friend's house where I was staying at the time.

This summer, the Black Forest caught on fire. It destroyed twice the number of houses that the Waldo Canyon fire did. And it was on THIS side of the highway.

When the fire broke out, I was again at work. We saw the smoke plume from our windows, this time on the other side of the building. They let us out early that day, mainly because it sounded like roads were going to be a mess. When I got home, I realized that you could see the fire from our front porch.

We had an intern staying with us, from the East Coast. She was a little freaked out, which is understandable. It's hard to tell how close things are out here, since there is just WAY more sky available to see out there than back east! So, we took a drive so she could see just how far away the fire was (it wasn't close.)
The fire was out in the country. Far. We went home, and slept well.
And then the fire wasn't far. Really not far. The mandatory evac zone expanded, then expanded some more. I went home early when it was announced (incorrectly, it turned out) that our neighborhood had gone under pre-evac status. I worked from home the next day when the fire continued to spread. We really did go under pre-evac notice, and then voluntary evacuation status.
We are in the yellow -voluntary evacuation. Dark yellow is "pre-evac" and all of the red is "mandatory evac." 
I packed. Eric was out of town for work, so I was by myself. I figured that there wasn't a serious risk of our house burning down, but a pretty decent possibility that we could be out of the house for a period of time. However, I also knew I had to prepare for the worst.

Its amazing what you pack, and don't pack, when you think about things you have to have with you, that you absolutely can't have burn up. I went through rooms and said, "well, we're taking nothing from here." So what did I pack?
  • Clothes
  • Toiletries
  • Photo albums
  • Necessary documents - bills, mortgage statements, etc.
  • The "fireproof box" with the most important docs - birth certificates, passports, car titles, etc.
  • Christmas ornaments
  • Some of my grandmother's antiques
  • "Good" jewelry
  • Eric's football jerseys
  • My favorite Dicken's Village pieces
  • Grandma Bartlett's mirror
That's about it. It filled less than a car. Once you are done packing for a disaster, there isn't much to do but wait. The anxiety goes in waves - one moment you aren't thinking about anything in particular, the next, you are nervous for no defined reason. You pace, you walk through the house "one more time." Eric flew home early, and we waited.

We were ok. We were lucky. We were protected. We never went under mandatory evacuation, and, while the smoke came into the house (ask Eric about the duct tape I put around the doors), it was never TOO bad. Thank God, the firefighters, the national guard, and the volunteers who kept our neighborhood safe.

Here's hoping to a nice, wet next summer...


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