when i took this photo(below) last saturday, i never could have imagined what the following week would hold. nearly 17,000 acres of our beautiful city of colorado springs have burned in the most catastrophic wildfire in colorado history. 347 homes were lost. the historic flying w ranch is nothing but charred remains and so far there has been one reported death.
by monday afternoon(photo below), the fires had spread to over 3,000 acres forcing many communities to evacuate. the fire was declared a local disaster and special air force firefighting planes were sent to colorado springs to join in the fight.
tuesday morning(photo above), this was the view from the back deck of our home. that afternoon we stood on the same deck in a state of disbelief as we watched the flames come over the mountain ridge and down into the city. paul texted me from his office around that time to tell me to look outside. this is what we saw:
before we knew it 65mph winds carried thick dark grey smoke from the burning mountainside all the way to our house miles away. paul said to shut the windows and stay inside. by the time i ran downstairs to close the windows, our house was filled with smoke. i knew immediately, we would not be staying there wether or not we had received an evacuation call. i gave the littles wet rags to cover their mouths and noses and sent them to the basement to stay below the worst of the smoke. i hurriedly tossed clothes, toiletries, important records, cameras and sleeping bags into a pile by the front door. paul called to say the gas stations were all running out of fuel, due to panicked people preparing to leave the area. he managed to find some and pick us up to head to my dad's house further east. everyone in our neighborhood was packing up their cars and children to leave as well. from the intersection near our home we could see a bright orange glow at the base of the smoke. later we realized those were homes burning.
tuesday evening we went to our church to help with evacuees that were being sent there from the threatened neighborhoods. we stood on the hill and watched something that will be etched in my memory forever.
to say the scene was overwhelming would hardly suffice. our friends stared in horror with tears streaming down their faces. it was so very different than watching something unfold on the news. you could breathe in the smoke, feel the ash falling from the sky and only stand helpless as homes and family memories burst into flames in front of you. never have i felt a spirit of devastation and heartbreak like i did that night. the heavy sadness in the springs is still present today, as well as the fires, which are continuing to burn a horrific path through the rocky mountains.
HOW YOU CAN HELP. visit www.wildfiretees.com and order a t-shirt created by a local designer. the proceeds will go to the victims of the Waldo Canyon Fire. thank you to everyone for your prayers and thoughts, keep them coming!