Saga Of A Wildfire

| 10/15/2018 10:41:00 AM


Coping With Wildfire:

We have just personally experienced the third largest and possibly the hottest burning wildfire in Colorado history. This is a first hand report from our experience and the lingering problems encountered by this wildfire. I have titled this blog ‘Saga’ as it is an ongoing story that will be divided into two easy read segments. We had pre-planned for a wildfire since we knew our state is a semi arid state that is prone to wildfires. Perhaps our personal experience will give others insight into how a wildfire impacts people if found in the same situation.

Restricted Outside Burning:

Prior to the actual wildfire we had been in an extreme red flag warning area instructing us ‘no outside burning’ of any kind for weeks before the wildfire was started. The person who set the wildfire has not been tried yet so I do not want to comment on how the wildfire started except to say it spread rapidly and before it was put out had burned 108,000+ acres. We were in the adjoining community and were only a handful of miles from the origin and where the fire started. There were 134 homes in our community that were destroyed and countless undeveloped lots.

Emergency Notification:

We were enjoying our evening dinner when we received the reverse 911 notification of a wildfire and we were in pre-evacuation status. Since the wildfire was north of us and heading due east we wrongly assumed it would pass us by. We went outside and could observe plumes of smoke a few miles north of us. A few minutes later  we received the second reverse 911 call to evacuate. We gathered our pre-arranged evacuation kits and loaded up our vehicles. Then we attempted to load our three dogs into the vehicles; however two are disabled with seriously weak back legs. That took us far more time than we had anticipated and by the time we turned off the propane tank and closed up the house we were late evacuating.

Evacuation Fail - Turning Back:

As we were leaving the community we could see the flames and smoke ahead of us and with only one way out of our community it appeared we were cut off from escape. We therefore returned home to await further instruction when another reverse 911 call told us it wouldn’t be safe if we didn’t evacuate by 7:30 p.m. We knew the drive out of our community would take us longer than that. We therefore spent a sleepless night watching the fire glow in the sky but not particularly moving toward us. The next morning we readied ourselves for evacuation if it became safe to leave. We knew we were more safe at our home than being on a road that was probably encased by fire.

Evacuating Through A Gauntlet Of Fire:

About noon a sheriff deputy came to our house and told us if we left in the next 5 minutes we could safely get out as the route was open. We left immediately and as we left recognized the wildfire was now moving toward our home. We drove through one area of heavy smoke and flames and could feel the outside heat through the vehicle doors. Once through those flames and embers we came upon a few firefighters in the road who told us to turn around as it was very bad ahead. Being unable to turn around and go back they told us to use extreme caution in going through the second area of flames and embers.

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