A Fierce Wildfire Changes My Mountain and My Community Forever
Two things I know for sure:
1) The majestic mountain in my backyard will never be the same again.
2) My deep gratitude for the heroic firefighters on that mountain can not be put into words...
This week has been one of the most traumatic in my life. A week ago on Saturday a large ember that had traveled for miles and miles floated down the mountain and landed on my head while I ate lunch on my deck. That was my first clue that a wildfire was burning in the nearby foothills of Pikes Peak in Colorado Springs. At first I was sure this wildfire would be like all the rest and the firefighters would be able to quickly contain it.
Mother Nature had another idea. The extreme lack of humidity and high winds created the perfect storm. The fire continued to grow each day. When fierce 65 mph winds blew across the foothills on Tuesday, the Waldo Canyon Fire jumped from canyon to canyon and into the houses of the Mountain Shadows neighborhood in Colorado Springs. Simply listing the number of houses destroyed—346—does not begin to explain the epic proportions of the ferocious fire that gobbled up everything in its path. My heart goes out to the families of the two people who perished in the fire. It was a miracle that the rest of 32,000 people who were told to evacuate their homes that day are safe. A choking brown cloud of smoke suddenly enveloped the city that Tuesday, homeowners in the path of the fire received reverse 911 calls, and in minutes long lines of cars clogged the neighborhood streets as they tried to leave. It was a nightmare.
(Photo above was taken by my husband as he exited our neighborhood on Tuesday.)
~ Chris Olson
Writer and illustrator