I’m sure many of you are aware of the wildfires that are burning in multiple places across Colorado. I wanted to give a quick first-person account of the fires that have hit Colorado Springs.
There has been a fire burning since the weekend in Waldo Canyon. While the fire was not contained fire fighters did a fantastic job keeping the fire from spreading into populated areas. As of Tuesday afternoon, with 5000 acres burned, miraculously there had been no injuries and no structures lost. Be aware, however, that most of the countryside in the foothills west of Colorado Springs is covered in pine forest. Worse, this pine forest has been devastated by Japanese pine beetle leaving a majority of it dead, dry, and full of highly combustible pine resin. Once a fire starts with that fuel mix available it is very hard to put out.
At around 4:30 pm yesterday, mother nature conspired against the city of Colorado Springs. A 65 mph wind developed and the Waldo Canyon fire rolled down the mountain like a wave. Officials are using the term “exploded”. In a matter of hours the fire area tripled to around 15,000 acres. 32,000 people were evacuated as of this morning, with the evacuation areas continuing to grow throughout today. Here’s a map of the current conditions (red is fire, blue is mandatory evacuation, yellow is pre-evacuation):
For an interactive version see: http://www3.gazette.com/fire/ . I left work–which happens to be inside the blue area, above–right before mandatory evacuation started. I picked up my dog from a day boarding facility (I had wanted her close by while I was at work, just in case) and here was the view from the parking lot (click twice to enlarge):
Driving home was surreal. It was 5 pm but it was dark and most cars had their headlights on. Again, click twice to enlarge:
For the most part, the community response has been amazing. I couldn’t hope to list all the places that are taking in people and pets. Many different organizations are taking donations to support displaced families and the fire fighters. Of course, any bad situation will also bring out the scum of society. A group of people have been canvasing neighborhoods posing as members of the United Way and asking for donations. I suppose it is a good thing I am not in charge or else these people would find themselves part of a fire barrier somewhere.
I know many wizbang readers have past or present military affiliations. The Air Force Academy as evacuated southern residences and with areas north of the academy on pre-evac the rest of the area is undoubtedly on high alert. The new cadets are scheduled to arrive on Thursday and at last word have not been redirected.
If you have thoughts or prayers to share with the people of Colorado Springs there are many that could use them.