Wednesday, June 27, 2012

We've Arrived in Hell

North Colorado Springs looking at the mountains

Believe it or not, I was able to see the smoke on the mountain from 85 miles outside Colorado Springs. I wondered at the first distant sight of the mountains if that could possibly be the smoke.  Then I tried to reason (looking at the Garmin which told me I was 85 miles away) that this couldn't be the smoke, but I kept my mind trained on the area as we got closer to the city and I realized eventually that, yes, you could see smoke from 85+ miles away.

The sun emerging from the smoke
We went out into Colorado Springs today looking for temporary lodging until a house could be found.  The smoke was always present on the mountains.  A constant reminder that there were people out there fighting the fires.  C130s would fly over the mountains dropping water and retardant onto the flames and 5% fire containment was reached this afternoon.  A small percentage to be sure, but much better than the 0% that we had been hearing for days.  Then the winds picked up this afternoon.  We're told that they reached 65+ mph in the mountains and the direction was blowing east toward the city.  By the time we left the hotel for dinner there was smoke all over I-25.

We drove north on I-25 toward Monument, Colorado for dinner.  It was rush hour and traffic was pretty heavy.  The smoke grew so thick that the street lights began to come on and ash fell lightly from the sky.  The horizon to the east (180 degrees opposite the fire) was darkened by the heavy smoke and the sun which had previously been entirely enveloped in the smoke emerged a deep red.

A helicopter battling the fires
We got out of dinner around 7:30pm and the smoke had improved, but you could now see flames on the mountainside and we were told by other bystanders outside the restaurant that homes had finally caught fire.  We took a drive in Monument looking for homes that might suit us and as the sun finally set over the mountains and all became dark, a faint glow remained in the distance reminding us that there was still a battle going on.

We are safe where we are staying, and where we are looking to move is likewise safe.  I pray for the people that are losing their homes and memories, and I pray for the emergency responders that are working around the clock trying to keep this city safe.