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  • Wild fires

    While I'm not in any danger with existing fires, having been near enough to one two years ago to pack my car with irreplacables (i.e., photos and computer), the wild fires raging in CO right now have me on edge.

    The latest news on the fire near Denver is that it's 10 miles from the SW suburbs and moving forward at 1 mph. Yesterday morning the fire was at 5,000 acres - right about now it's estimated at 60-70,000 - and if the wind keeps blowing like it is, estimates are that the fire will be 100,000 tonight. 40,000(!) people may have to be evacuated. Not to mention that a major watershed is threatened - in a drought-ridden state. And there's nothing that can be done to stop it. Firefighters were pulled off the front lines earlier today because the wind was making it much too dangerous, so it's being fought only from the air at this point. There is no rain in the picture at all in the next couple of days (and possible thunderstorms after that - which have been pretty good at bringing lightning without any rain these days), so who knows how bad it's going to get.

    And what makes me most upset and furious is that they say this fire was started by an ILLEGAL CAMPFIRE!! It's one thing to deal with fires caused by lightning (and there's plenty of those fires burning too), but to have such devestation caused by the stupidity (or is it arrogance that the fire ban doesn't apply to them?) of humans leaves me speechless!

    Jeanie

  • #2
    Jeanie,
    I'm so sorry about what you must be going through. I remeber a couple years back when Florida was on fire and I looked out my back porch one night and could see the skys lit up from them and the smoke was so strong you couldn't breath stepping outside. It's a frightening thing.
    I had heard about the fires but had no idea how close to you they were. Most times it's man's stupidity of carelessness that start these fires. It's just too bad nature isn't helping things out. Wish I could send some good hurricane rains your way. With out the heavy winds of course.
    DJ

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    • #3
      DJ, just to be clear, I'm not near enough to the fires to see any flame or even "glow" in the night sky. (Two years ago I was though.) I'm not in any danger at all actually - it's about 80 miles away. But we're getting enough smoke to make everything hazy and give sunsets disturbing (though beautiful) colors. I remember at least two RP members who live in Denver though.

      The scary thing (for me) is that one tiny spark could set off the same sort of disaster much closer to me. Unless we start getting a lot of rain (doubtful), the whole summer is going to be like this. Guess I better get used to it.

      Jeanie

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      • #4
        Jeanie,

        I saw the news tonight about the fires, and I was going to ask you about them. They showed one family that had to evacuate, and the guy said they packed up some of their treasures, specifically mentioning their pictures and albums. When I heard that they called the fire fighters off, I knew it was really getting bad. Hopefully you'll get some rain to help out. Wish there were something we could do to help.

        Ed

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        • #5
          Jeanie - Like Ed, I was reading about the fires tonight and you came to mind. I actually logged on here with the intention of starting at thread to ask you how you were!

          Sounds like you are in no danger at the moment but it really makes me mad every time I hear about one of these fires. The most devastating fires always seem to be a result of human ignorance and it takes a huge toll not only on nature but on human life. I have been through hurricanes and tornadoes, so I know how unpredictable these things can be...I only wish, like DJ, that I could send you a nice long 2 day rain shower!

          Stay safe and keep us updated.

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          • #6
            Thanks for your concern everyone - that's really touching.

            Update this morning is that last evening the wind changed direction and the fire started moving back on itself. Yeah!! It's estimated to be 77,000 acres - the largest in CO history. But the danger for SW Denver residents is far from over. The wind could switch back just as fast, so everyone down there is still on alert. There's a 30% chance of thunderstorms this afternoon, so let's hope they actually materialize and that they contain lots of rain!

            Jeanie

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            • #7
              Thanks for your concern (over in kaleidescopes) Lisa.

              I haven't heard an update this morning, last night's news said that the fire is now 90,000 acres (covering 135 sq miles). The weather yesterday cooperated in that the winds were blowing away from Denver, so they were able to put ground crews working on a containment line between the fire and Denver. And they were able to put air crews in the air for the first time in two days. 30 more homes were destroyed though, bringing the total homes destroyed to 51. I think something like 4000 residents have been evacuated from the smaller towns around Pike National Forest; residents in the SW Denver suburbs are still on alert to evacuate at a moments notice if the wind changes direction again.

              The fire is no threat to Fort Collins (80 miles away), but we have quite a haze in the sky. And if the wind shifts again, we'll start getting showers of ash again too. That's nothing compared to what residents in the line of the fire are facing though.

              Gotta run... Jeanie

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              • #8
                I lived in Florida when those fires were happening. It was nuts. I remember them canceling the 4th of July fireworks, I drove three hours just to see fireworks. And the smoke... that was the worst, on the news they told people to stay inside especially if you had asthma or a breathing problem to start with.

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                • #9
                  hi Jeanie,

                  glad to hear that the fires aren't too close to you, I've seen photos of your area in my newspaper and it looks quite scary. in Alberta, there's forest fires here too, but there's all kinds of other weird weather too. in the north end of alberta, the just got a huge dump of snow (in June!!!) and they've got about 3 days of pouring rain. it's gone from one disaster to another, first everything is burning up, then there's flooding everywhere. I'm lucky though, I'm in the middle of a fairly big city, and all I'm getting is really nice sunny weather.

                  - David

                  P.S. I tried to find the photo of the red sky in colorado that I saw in my newspaper so I could attach it to this post, but I couldn't find it, sorry. it was a really amazing pic, and if i find it I'll definitely post it.

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                  • #10
                    Jeanie - I only just caught the news last night ... Forest fires are no fun - we get them all the time here in the winter (dry season). Sending good thoughts for your safety! Sam

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                    • #11
                      Thanks for the kind sentiments everyone!

                      Chiquitita, Some of the mountain towns have decided to cancel fireworks this year. Probably smart on their part since they depend so much on tourism and a fire would pretty much kill that business for at least a couple of years. There is no statewide ban though - it's being left up to each municipality. There are fire and personal fireworks bans throughout the state though - and there has been talk about possibly closing public lands from any recreation at all (to reduce human-caused fire risk) because the state can't handle another fire starting right now. Yes, it's crazy.

                      David, the sunsets last weekend up here in Ft Collins were spectacular - only ruined by the knowledge of what created them (smoke). I can't see the smoke plume from Ft Collins though - I think because there is so much haze caused by the smoke spreading across the front range. We haven't been getting quite as much haze the past three days because the wind is blowing south - which is also why the fire turned back on itself and away from Denver. Wind is a given in CO though and very unpredictable, which is why they are saying this fire is still a risk to the Denver suburbs.

                      There is a website with lots of fire info that I've been checking the past couple of days:
                      http://www.fs.fed.us/r2/psicc/fire/hayman/index.htm
                      The photos and perimeter maps are probably the most interesting for non-Coloradoans.

                      Of course, this is only one fire out of eight. The 12,000 acre fire near Glenwood Springs seems to be slightly more under control - I think I heard 35% contained, but I'm not sure. And I haven't been following the others because it's a little overwhelming to think about!

                      Jeanie

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                      • #12
                        [QUOTE]Originally posted by jeaniesa
                        [B]

                        David, the sunsets last weekend up here in Ft Collins were spectacular - only ruined by the knowledge of what created them (smoke).

                        It's amazing that nature can make something so beautiful out of a disasterous situation. I just checked out the link you provided. It looks like there are a few small towns that had fire coming from two different directions. That had to be really scary. Glad you're not too close at this time. Take care Jeanie.

                        Ed

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                        • #13
                          Cold Missourri Waters (sorta long)

                          With all the talk about fires, I would like to reccommend a song. I know that sounds strange, but I recently heard a song that I had to go research because the lyrics were interesting. It is called Cold Missourri Waters - it is written by James Keelaghan (he is a Canadian folk singer) and the version I have is performed by Richard Shindell backed up by Lucy Kaplansky and Dar Williams.
                          See my post in this thread for more info on Dar.

                          thread

                          You might ask, what does this have to do with fires? Good question! Cold Missourri Waters is about the Mann Gulch fire in Montana in 1949 which took the lives of 13 smoke jumpers. "Wag" Dodge was the senior smokejumper who led the jumpers in and they thought they thought the fire would be an easy one, however it jumped the valley and trapped them. With no way out, Wag Dodge lit what is now known as an escape fire. He told the men to lay in the burnt grass but they either didn't listen and ran. The fire caught up to them and they died. The only survivors were Dodge and two men that stayed behind and listened to him. Dodge died a few years later of Hodgkins disease. The guy who wrote the song said something like "the fate that saved his life at age 32, took it at 36." I believe they credit Wag Dodge for "inventing" the escape fire technique.

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                          • #14
                            Chiquitita, the Coal Seam fire which is burning near Glenwood Springs is eerily near the Storm Mountain fire which took the lives of 14 fire fighters in a very similar incident a few years ago. That incident is one reason the fire fighters were called off the front lines for the first few days of the Hayman Fire (near Denver) because the wind was so bad it was causing the fire to jump ahead of itself. (There's a term for that - but I can't remember what it is.) Sounds like a powerful song - and a very interesting technique for surviving through a situation that I can't even imagine.
                            Jeanie

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                            • #15
                              It makes you appreciate firefighters and what they do. I was having a discussion with someone the other day about firefighters and how they are true heroes. We were talking about what hard work they do and how their sole motivation is to help people. Other occupations sometimes have other motivations behind them. I know quite a few police officers, for example, and many of them are in it for the power trip - not all, of course, but I would say a decent percentage. Firemen, however, risk their lives with no motivation other than to put out the fire and possibly save lives. Pretty awesome work.

                              Wag Dodge apparently never jumped again and from what I read, never got over loosing those men - that is what the song is about - him telling the story from his death bed.

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