Friday, June 29, 2012

The drive that changed my life forever

     Tuesday, June 26, 2012.
     A wildland fire had been creeping at the ridges to the west of the city for a few days after starting Saturday, June 23, in a well-known hiking canyon seven miles to the west, Waldo Canyon. Fears rose, and were relieved as firefighters built breaks and their air support dropped water and slurry. Parts of town were evacuated. Anxiety grew again and heightened Tuesday after a hot-spot grew near Queen's Canyon.
    About 5 p.m. a thunderstorm to the northwest brought erratic winds that pushed the fury of the fire out of the canyon at 65 mph. It released a firestorm into the residential  area of Mountain Shadows. No one could have predicted what happened; the unimaginable. Many homes had been evacuated, many to the north, just pre-evacuated. Those residents were left fleeing with the clothes on their back, what could be grabbed by the door. Three hundred forty-seven houses burned to the ground. At least two people dead. Countless pets, plants, photographs, unread mail, unread books, undone projects, uncooked meals, forever gone.

    I was driving south on the interstate after photographing the huge ominous cloud behind the chapel at the Air Force Academy where I work. I had gotten edgy by the news the fire had grown. The winds almost pushed me to the ground on the way to my car. Heading to the safety of my west side home, I began to panic. Were they all okay? I have never been so frightened in my life. I had the news radio on so I had an idea what had occurred. Nonetheless, I was separated from my family, my gas tank was on empty and I was driving scared into the blackened sky that looked like my deepest fear of an earth-ending nightmare.

   I can tell you that we have packed and repacked for evacuation. I can tell you I documented each room and all valuables. I have imagined how much I would miss the pride of the neighborhood, the comfort and memories of our home.  I can tell you it's strange to really not care about possessions when choosing what to pack.
  What I can also tell you besides the shock and sadness, what has really gotten to me is guilt. I feel guilty about being irritated about having to give my daughter a ride to her best friend's house. Many times, driving down 30th St., left on Flying W Ranch Rd., left on Wilson Rd., left on Brogans Bluff, halfway up the hill, on the left. Dropping her off for a day of carefree teen stuff, a walk down to the Walgreen's, a day at the pool. I wish so much I could do that for her now. The lovely home on Brogans Bluff is in cinders. Never again. And now I am guilty.

   Upon my daughter's urging we went to the nearest viewpoint to photograph the devastation Tuesday evening. She wanted to share photos with her friends, who wanted to know how things were unraveling. They keep in touch via texting and Facebook.

  If you would like to do something for our city there's numerous agencies handling relief and aid for those who have lost their homes or still evacuated from affected areas. The Red Cross is always a good place to start.


  1. Thanks Carol. So glad you and the Greg, Bryce and Maggie as well as Jack and Rae are safe. Makes me glad to live in New York where the bad weather is mostly snow and wicked bad thunder storms. I hope it rains there soon.

  2. My heart goes out to you all. Mother Nature can be mercilous but the Human Spirit holds strong and true. Puts things into perspective in our petty lives...

  3. Those are unreal photos. Glad you are all OK. Just wanted to comment and say thanks for stalking my blog and I am now stalking yours. =)

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