Yesterday morning I heard the local meteorologist speak of extreme fire danger and as the wind roared all day, I had a bad feeling. The trees were whipping side to side and it was only 4% humidity. Perfect conditions for a fire.
As I went to my post office to drop off packages, I could see smoke in the distance and as soon I got home, David said, “did you see the smoke?” Sure enough a fire had sprouted nearby. Only 7 miles away. And the few acres blew up to 100+ in a little over an hour.
Then we got the call. The dreaded reverse 911 call. In the 6 years we’ve been up here and of the countless fires in the area, we’ve never never received a reverse 911 call. Luckily the mandatory evacuations were not for us and the fire was moving in the other direction.
Last year it seemed like fires were happening every other day for a while, so we had our evacuation bins set by the door. But it’s only March and well, there hadn’t been any fires yet.
The worst part of the evening was listening to the fire scanner (David used to be a volunteer firefighter) and hearing dispatch tell the crews that a family of four was trapped by fire on all four sides of their house and fire was beginning to enter their house. I thought I was going to lose it at that point. Can you imagine that fear? There has only been one confirmed death, so we can only hope they somehow made it out okay.
The wind was on our side and from the views north of Denver, you can see how the wind was blowing everything East (and we were 7 miles west of the fire).
But as the evening progressed, we heard of embers lighting up locations closer to us…so we packed up and gave ourselves a zone on the map that if it moved any closer too, we’d bail.
Thing about our road is that it’s a tiny dead-end road and the main road that gets to our tiny road is also a dead-end road and from our house to the end of that main road (which then takes you out to the main highway) is 3 miles long. Last thing we want is to get trapped with nowhere to go.
That picture at the beginning? We are actually located between the fire and the person who took that picture. Makes for a scary perspective!
So what do you grab if you are evacuating? Lets see…on our short checklist is:
- important documents
- backup hard drives
- wedding photo album
- food/water/medicine for the dogs
- basic toiletries and change of clothing for us
- laptops, cell phones and chargers for all
- extra water
- pillows/blankets in case we have to sleep in our car (not many places will take in 3 dogs!)
And well, that’s about it. Most of the other stuff can be replaced. I scan all my paintings and backup to carbonite so that if a fire ever happens and I can’t grab my laptop, I have them stored elsewhere. Most of my photos are also on my computer and backed up as well.
But what’s most important to me is that David, the dogs and I get out safe. Nothing else really matters at that point.
As you can imagine, we barely slept last night. We had the scanner on and every time they talked about more evacuations or the direction of the fire, I was listening to hear. Made for a restless night. As of this morning over 3,000 acres have burned, along with 15-25 homes and 0% has been contained. Winds are quiet now but supposed to pick up this afternoon and possibly change direction toward us, so we’re not clear just yet. Luckily David is on his weekend right now and home with me (as we share one vehicle and being home without a car when a fire breaks out is always in the back of my mind).
We know that we assume certain risks living in the mountains, just as those on the East Coast know they have hurricanes, those on the Pacific Coast have earthquakes, those in the middle of the country have tornadoes. It’s just par for the course.
For now, we are safe and fortunate to have each other. And that’s all that matters.