It feels like all of Colorado is burning. I know this is a factual exaggeration, but if you are here, it seems to be true. The High Park fire, near Fort Collins, has burned over 82,000 acres. The smoke from that fire, north of here, is sometimes strong in my town, and the skies are often hazy.

Yesterday, the Waldo Canyon fire started about 30 miles from where Kelsea and I were staying in Cripple Creek. The smoke was acrid where we were, burning our noses, eyes, and throats, making us cough, making it hard to breathe. Attendance at Donkey Derby Days had dropped significantly, with people trying to figure out how to get out. The highway into Colorado Springs was closed, and the alternate routes were unfamiliar and took unseasoned travellers far out of the way of wherever their final destination may have been.

We left after the Dog Show, and decided to see how far into Woodland Park we could get, making it to the WalMart before we were turned back.

Here’s the view of the fire from the Woodland Park WalMart parking lot:

Waldo Canyon Fire from Woodland Park WalMart

We turned around and headed down Hwy. 67 towards Deckers, and had gotten just around Turtle Creek when Kelsea said, “Is that smoke?” I didn’t see it, so I thought it might be just blown over from the Waldo Canyon fire, but sure enough about a mile onward, we saw had a clear view to the south, and saw this:

Start of the Turtle Creek fire

Kelsea called 911 and was told there were already crews on the way.  Our question is, what crews?  Fully half of the NATION’s wildfire fighting resources are already deployed to existing Colorado fires, and there are huge fires burning in New Mexico, Utah, and Arizona as well. By the time we had driven another mile, and pulled over on a high spot, we saw this:

Turtle Creek Fire

Trees were starting to pop like firecrackers. And the wind was picking up and moving our direction. We were about a mile from the fire. I decided we should head on, because that just seems like a good idea when a fire is heading your way. But we stood there watching for a bit, near tears. It hurts to watch such beauty burn.

By the time we got to Pine, we heard that they had closed the road behind us. We had passed quite a few cars clearly packed with as much of their possessions as they could carry, and the atmosphere at Zola’s, where we stopped for burgers, was markedly subdued.  In fact, we were unusually quiet and pensive, both wishing there was something we could do. We are both warm bodies, and would both be willing to go toe to toe with a wildfire.

I’m home now, and the wind is high, the skies are churning and greenish, thunder is rumbling, and I just unwisely finished watching “Twister”. Fire trucks and emergency vehicles are racing past my house. To quote Puglet, no idea.

But please say a prayer for all of those who are being impacted by the combined wrath of Mother Nature and carelessness of man – who knows which is the cause of such destruction.

This map is of June 23, and is missing the Turtle Creek Fire.