The fire had been burning since Saturday. Monday, still burning, my parents on pre-evacuation, everyone a little tense. We had dinner at their house that night and I remember thinking that it didn't feel too safe there, but no urgent sense of danger. Here are a few pictures I took Monday night:
Tuesday, on the drive to work it looked like it had the previous few days. However, from my office window, I noticed it getting increasingly worse throughout the day. I work on the other side of town from our parent's neighborhood and when I noticed this, I decided to call my mom.
She picked up the phone in a near-panic and said that the fire was very close, that they were leaving. I then called my husband to make sure he knew what was going on and he told me that his younger sister called him frantically asking him to come help them pack up and get out. After this, I sat at my desk for a minute and then realized I had to leave. This seemed much worse than when they were put on evacuation notice the previous Saturday.
I left work and sped over to my parent's neighborhood. The closer I got, the smokier and more chaotic it was. There was traffic going all different directions, ambulances trying to make it through and so much smoke you couldn't see 100 feet in front of you. On top of this, the phone lines were all jammed with so many people trying to make calls. I called Ryan and my parents several times, only to get dropped calls or voicemail. I finally got a hold of my mom, and when I told her I was coming to help, she adamantly told me not to come up to the neighborhood, that they were on their way out. I confirmed this with my husband and hearing that everyone was driving out, I decided to leave as well. I cannot imagine what it was like in those foothills. I managed to get this picture at Woodmen and I-25 as I was leaving.
Traffic, of course, was pure mayhem, but I managed to make it home about half an hour later. I then stood at the end of our street, waiting for my husband and family to arrive, watching the flames and smoke engulf our city.
About an hour later, everyone arrived. A huge sense of relief flooded me, but it was quickly replaced by fear of what was happening. At this point, we had no idea what was going on or if we would ever return to the house my family had been living in for over 20 years. We live on the north side of town, and even from there, you could see the flames devouring the foothills. We soon found out that the fire had jumped the ridge that separates the mountains from the neighborhoods and that the area directly below my parents was burning. It was on the same hill we used to live on just a few months ago, before we moved. We all watched the news that night, and disaster doesn't even begin to cover it.
The next day, what looks like fog is lingering smoke and smoke from the still-burning fire.
Several times a day, we would all walk out to the end of our street to see what it looked like.
The next group of pictures are from the Denver Post and come as close as you can to the unbelievable disaster.
This next set of the day after is from The Gazette.
Two individuals, just under 350 houses and a sense of safety lost. We are grieving with you and want to help in any way we can. Please - if you are able, please volunteer supplies, time or money to help those who are in loss. I love the saying going around, "Community does not burn."
A disaster, yes, but also a time where the very best in our city and the people in it, along with countless others, came out. We are forever grateful to those fighting to protect our city. I realized just what an amazing place we live in and will never take any part of it for granted again.
And to the firefighters, law enforcement, military, volunteers and so many others... THANK YOU. You saved homes, neighborhoods and people. Words will never be enough to express our gratitude.