….were a little too close for comfort…. as the crow flies and to be somewhat exact, the last part of devastation occurred about a mile to 1.5 miles from our home.
As many of you probably heard this past week, Boulder County, Colorado had one of the worst fires in the state’s history. Rough numbers: 1,000 out of 2,000 homes/structures burned, 35,000 people evacuated, 2 very sad casualties, and who knows how many pets were lost. It all makes me sick to my stomach.
What caused it? Not sure just yet, the latest story out there is that it may have started in a barn or a shed – an investigation is on-going. This fire happened to start on one of the windiest days I have ever seen in 20 years of living in CO. Gusts up to 100+ miles per hour – ahead of a major snow storm. Between the wind and significant lack of snow, Denver and Boulder are truly matchsticks ready to be lit.
As you can imagine, the fire spread pretty rapidly. Many people had only 10 minutes to gather kids, pets, important papers and get the hell out of their homes. Entire neighborhoods were decimated. People lost it all. Many were on vacation or at work and had no chance to recover a thing, including beloved pets.
The amount of sadness in our community is palpable. I ran to the store on New Years Day and the heaviness in peoples hearts was clearly felt. It was hard to say the words, “Happy New Year”, when 100% of us in this part of Boulder County know at least 1 family impacted.
I’ve been crying every day since it happened. It could have been us, people are in pain, families are suffering. The only way I know how to cope is to jump in and help as much as possible. The past few days have been spent connecting people, fulfilling needs lists, purging closets, picking up donation items and trying to make others feel loved and supported during the shitiest time of their lives. It’ll be on going for several months while people find housing, which in Denver and Boulder is hard to come by and certainly not cheap.
Soooo, what was that day like for us – being so close? In a nut-shell, pretty terrifying. Fire is the scariest disaster for me – fire and tornados. UGH.
Sean and I were having lunch in our little town on December 30…..it was a great lunch, so great we were wondering why we hadn’t been going to this place for the past 3 years. When we left around 1:30, the sky was full of smoke. Anxiety instantly kicked in. We could tell it wasn’t good. Smoke was billowing over our neighborhood.
We ran to the grocery store to pick up a few things….we were so stressed we walked out of the store without our bags. Didn’t realize it until 45 minutes later – not sure if that was early onset dementia or anxiety. LOL.
The news coverage was all over every channel so we could definitely see what was happening….winds continued to blow fast and furious, we could see homes being destroyed, heading in our direction. Panic set in – 2 cars full of stuff were ready to go at a moments notice….we both cried, feeling utterly and completely helpless. Worried about our friends and every other family watching their homes go up in flames on national TV.
At about 5:00, all of our neighbors were loading up cars, ready to evacuate. A police car drove through the hood and warned us it was moving fast and that it was a good idea to prep – it was inevitable we would have to leave. That was enough for most neighbors – they all hit the road. In doing so, they sat in traffic for an hour + trying to cross town, while we sat inside and waited it out. Not sure which option was worse.
Every so often, I’d walk outside to make sure looters hadn’t broken into our neighbor’s homes and to check the smoke patterns. The unfortunate result was that I could hear homes and cars blowing up from the front porch. I’ll never forget it. Honestly. It’s etched in my brain.
The news reported the wind was shifting and moving away from us, which was somewhat comforting for our home. But we have friends in other parts of the city who could have been potentially impacted. By 8:00, smoke was dissipating and we could calm down – no evacuation necessary. The amount of love and support we received from family and friends was overwhelming. We had homes to go to all over Colorado, Texas and Oregon. One cannot express how comforting that was.
The aftermath as you can probably visualize is pretty horrific. However, there were some unbelievable miracles that occurred. The fire stopped short of a friends home….not every home on every street was decimated (with the exception of one particular neighborhood referenced above), one home would be left standing amid 20 + burnt others. The wind patterns created a tornado-like effect where flames would literally jump over structures.
All I can say is I’m grateful we and our immediate neighbors are ok. Things could have been significantly worse. I’m seeing a HUGE amount of outpouring of love and support for these communities – my faith in humanity is being restored. One of my BFF’s employer is donating $100,000 to a community fund. I have colleagues from other states pitching in. Just amazing. It truly feels like we lost a limb – the trauma is real.
The efforts of our first responders was truly incredible – with the winds, the fire could not be contained at any rate of significant speed, but there are stories where they jumped in IMMEDIATELY when they could.
Snow began to fall on Friday morning 12/31 – a HUGE amount of relief was provided to everyone in CO. I will NEVER complain about snow again – EVER.
Time will tell what caused this fire, but if it was because of some human, well, I have no words for that individual (s). If you have friends in the Boulder or Denver area, there is a great chance someone has been effected – emotionally or physically. Reach out and ‘touch’ someone if you are able.
Let the healing begin.
….i choose this…