Yesterday I went to a quilting bee in Longmont, which is a twenty minute drive northeast of here. As I drove back in the late afternoon I was surprised to see a big plume of smoke rising up from the mountains to the west. At home I learned that a small fire was burning up near Nederland, the first mountain town to our west, about ten miles away. Some 200 acres had been destroyed and many people had been evacuated from their mountain homes.
Of course we knew about the threat of mountain fires before we moved here. And since arriving here two years ago we've heard dramatic stories of past fires, especially the 2010 Four Mile Canyon fire, the flames of which could be seen from Boulder at night. In the ten days that it burned it destroyed 169 homes, including that of a close friend of one of our friends. Here's a photo of it taken from Boulder.
But since we've lived here there had been no fires of any importance, and I assumed this one would be short lived.
But at home I read the news and realized that "zero containment" had been achieved. And when we headed off to bed the wind from the fire shifted and smoke was blown across Boulder from the fire above it. It stung my eyes and made it hard for me to sleep. But at least I was safe in my home, and not tossing and turning in the evacuation center in Nederland.
This morning the news was more serious. The wind which had blown the smoke towards us had also blown the fire southeast. The road from Magnolia Drive, near the top of Boulder Canyon, up to Nederland, was closed so that the helicopters ferrying water from Barker Reservoir near Nederland could work safely. Pre-evacuation orders had also been issued for the area. I had been to parties and done hikes off of Magnolia Drive, so this was getting personal!
This afternoon I escaped the 95+ degree heat and strong winds by going to see Finding Dory in Longmont with friends. On the way home I took these photos of the smoke from the fire, which I learned had now spread to 300+ areas, still had zero containment, and had forced the evacuation of almost 2,000 people, including the area around Magnolia Drive. (Pets and livestock are also being evacuated.)
These pictures were taken about twenty miles from the fire. Our house is about eleven miles from the fire.
When I got home I learned that much Boulder Canyon had been closed, extending as far down as the east entrance, which is in Boulder itself.
Ben had spent the day rock climbing in Boulder Canyon in an area above Boulder Falls, relatively close to Magnolia Drive, and he not only smelled the smoke but could see the sky turning from blue to orange to black throughout the day.
When he and his climbing partner made their way back to their car they found an evacuation notice on it. As they drove down the Canyon they saw a caravan of three horse trailers making their way up the road, presumably to evacuate horses from the nearby ranches.
This fire --now named The Cold Springs Fire -- isn't a wildfire. Two men from Alabama camping on private property near Nederland were arrested late this afternoon for not property tending their campfire at the "ad hoc" campsite on private land.
Before the fire began my niece Jennifer and her family stopped by for a visit on their drive home to Virginia from Las Vegas, where they saw her husband's family. We had lovely hour or so together...
...and Paul enjoyed visiting with his cousins.
While their visit was too short I was so glad they went out of their way to see us. And I'm glad they got in and out of town before the fire.