High Park Fire Update – Day 15

Hi everyone,

For those of you who have been following my posts on the fire in our area, I wanted to send out a quick update today. The fire has moved North, away from our home and away from the home of one of my close friends and clients in a nearby canyon, but it is still blazing and has burned several more homes in the Poudre River Canyon area. The count is now close to 200 structures destroyed.

Firefighters had been able to get a handle on containment last week with cooler weather and less wind – 60%. Then, the winds picked up yesterday afternoon and the fire raged out of control again in an area where there are many homes. Containment has now gone down to 45%. Firefighters had to be pulled out of their positions in protecting structures for their own safety. Many people now have been evacuated, allowed to return home and reevacuated as the fire moves around. Its erratic  behavior seems almost human in its determination to destroy structures in its way.

A report on Twitter from the media briefing last night quoted a veteran firefighter who said they hadn’t seen fire behavior like this in many years. Acreage burned is now close to 70,000 the second largest in Colorado history. For many reasons, (obviously) I wish I could report better news, but as I’ve said in earlier posts, we’re dealing with nature here. And also contrast is simply a part of life…Still, the very good news, evacuations have saved lives, and the firefighters have also remained safe.



It’s a Small World

It’s a Small World – Disneyland Courtesy Flickr Creative Commons – some rights reserved by Sam Howzit

How many times have I heard this phrase? And how many times will I hear it again? I often equate “It’s a small world” with synchronicities, especially those events that link us humans to each other in fun and inspirational ways. I’m talking about those seemingly miraculous events that I can’t explain in any way other than through the effects of the Law of Attraction or through the intervention of the Divine (same thing).

One of the things I love about blogging is the wonderful people I’ve met through this process – blooming friendships through the exchange of ideas, feelings, photos, readings, poems, humor. Short comments are always welcome and as I find my favorite blogs, I make more comments of support, agreement, delight, and those who have agreed with me do the same. It’s surprisingly rich and rewarding and has expanded my horizons in ways that I never expected.

This week I was struck by another “coincidence” that touched my heart and brought tears of gratitude to my eyes. I’ve been conversing through comments with Gina V. at Professions for PEACE and over the short few months that we’ve been exchanging ideas, we have developed a lovely friendship. Gina commented on one of my recent posts about the wildfire that is still burning near my home in Northern Colorado. Her revelation blew me away! Her brother is a helicopter pilot who works as a firefighter – traveling throughout the Southwest helping to put out wildfires and he’s here in Fort Collins now!

The local news this week has shifted some of its focus from the day-to-day reports of acreage burned to more factual stories about firefighting. In one of their reports, they talked about the contributions of the helicopter force. It seems that, in this particular fire, the helicopters have played a huge role in helping to contain the fire. They’re small, agile and can quickly pump water from nearby lakes and return to drop it on the fire for repeated runs. And the exciting news is that the fire is now 50% contained!

I’m so grateful for all of the firefighters and their efforts to protect my community and more specifically, my own home. And the connection to this one firefighter through the blogosphere is a powerful reminder that we are all one, all connected through this web of energy that we cannot see. Thank you, Gina’s brother, and thank you, Gina for your friendship and support. And thank you to all of you who read this blog and click “like” or comment. Who knows what synchronicities we’ll discover as time goes on?

What recent synchronicities have you enjoyed? Or what have you noticed recently that caused you to say, “It’s a small world?” Feel free to share below!

With Love,


©CathyUlrich and LargeSelf, 2012


Courtesy Flickr Creative Commons – some rights reserved by USFS Region 5

You can’t go very far in Fort Collins without seeing some sort of sign thanking the firefighters #HighParkFire

Ty Brennan – via Twitter

This quote was just posted today. It reflects one of the many things I love about my community and one of the many reasons I grieve for it and its people and the losses we are experiencing as a result of the High Park Fire. Those individuals who have lost their homes have barely come to terms with this reality. And even those of us who have our homes intact will be forever changed as a result of this tragedy as well.

The nearby mountains that we drive through to get away from the heat in the summer will no longer provide the shade and scent of evergreens – at least for several decades. The hiking trails that we sought to gain solitude will be a different landscape for many months – smelling of burned wood and charred rocks. And the views will be barren of the beautiful trees that we so loved.

Even as the fire continues to burn, I’m hopeful for the future. You see, nature is at work here. One of the primary reasons this fire has been so difficult to contain is that many of our beloved pine trees were already dead. We have watched them – one by one – turn brown and drop all of their needles as the Mountain Pine Beetle destroyed their bark – and took away their life force. They have provided the kindling that the fire needed to burn so ferociously. And maybe the fire is here for a reason…

I heard recently that the Ponderosa Pine that populates much of our forests in this area can only reproduce in the presence of fire. The fire is what causes the pine cones to open and release their precious treasure – the seeds that grow the next generation.

A few years ago, I visited Yellowstone National Park and was in awe of the recovery of the forest after the devastating fire that hit that beautiful part of the world in 1988. Young, bright green trees covered the landscape, growing up between the remains of the burned stumps. Twenty years later, the new trees had already reached close to twenty feet. And I couldn’t help but smile at the new forest that grew from the ashes of the old one.

So today, I’m grateful for the efforts of all of those working to contain this fire. But I’m also grateful for the wisdom of our planet and the beauty and even sometimes of the ferocity of nature. I am not glad that this happened, and I do not wish for anyone to lose their home. But I will look forward to the rebuilding – of people’s lives, of homes and of the forest. And I will smile at our new forest as she grows from the ashes of the old.

With Love,


©CathyUlrich and LargeSelf, 2012

High Park Fire – Day Five

Courtesy Flickr Creative Commons – some rights reserved by Handy7390

I do have a more upbeat post about the fire that I’m working on and I’ll probably put it up on Friday, but I just wanted to give you an update and I know many of you who don’t live in the area are concerned. As the focus for this blog is Energy and Healing, it seems a little strange to be writing about current events affecting my smallish community, but I guess it’s still energy in all of its forms.

Fire is so important in many spiritual traditions. It can be cleansing, and also destructive – but I keep seeing the image of the Phoenix in my mind and this helps me to say in a positive space. But more about that later in the week…

You can watch the news and get the gist of the situation, but I think it’s different when you hear directly from a resident of the area. As the days wear on, the national news coverage seems to get sparser – maybe because it is now more like old news – but it is obviously still very current here in Fort Collins. We’re reminded of the fire by the ever present thick smoke, the sound of bombers and helicopters flying back and forth and the presence of forest service firefighting equipment around town. It’s somewhat surreal.

Here’s what we have been told today:

  • Containment is still listed as 10% today with an additional 3,000 acres or so burned in the last 24 hours. The total burned area is now listed as 46,600 acres.The biggest area of concern right now is the area of the fire to the north and west.
  • One of the reasons firefighters are worried about this particular area is that it’s composed of about 70% of trees recently killed by pine beetles. They’re basically matchsticks waiting to explode.
  • Some residents have been allowed to go back to their homes in areas that were not burned.
  • The Larimer Sheriff’s department is starting to take inventory of the buildings that have been damaged/destroyed and they’re talking with evacuees on an individual basis. So far, the number of buildings destroyed is around 120.
  • They are still evacuating new areas on the northwest side of the fire as that part is still completely out of control.
  • We have about 1000 people now fighting the fire and a large air attack force now in place.
  • Firefighters are working to make a stand at the Cache La Poudre River, hoping to keep the fire from crossing the river and continuing north.
  • One bright note is that many people had time not only to save themselves during the the evacuation, but also to save their animals. A large number of large animals as well as pets have been saved. The large animals are being housed at our local fair grounds and many pets are being cared for by the Larimer Humane Society – over 250 of them. Several veterinarians have also opened their kennels for overflow from the humane society. If you’re itching to do something to help, LarimerHumane.org is taking financial donations to defray the costs of this very large influx of animals.

So that’s what we know today. Thank you to all of you here on the blogosphere for your words of encouragement and concern. Your positive energy, thoughts and prayers warm my heart and help raise the vibration for my beloved community.



High Park Fire – Day 4

Sunrise with smoke from the High Park Fire

I just wanted to send a quick update on the fire today and then I invite you to read the previous post reblogged from Freedom to a Full Life. Katrina’s beautiful words reflect how I’m feeling today.

Today, it is very smoky – so much so – that the smoke could be mistaken for a think fog if everything didn’t smell like a campfire. It has been cooler for the past few days and normally we would open up the house to bring in the fresh air, but not today. While the authorities say that the fire is still growing, it did not grow exponentially yesterday. It went from 37,000 to 43,000 acres. Still a lot, but not as much percentage-wise as the previous two days. And the Sheriff tweeted this morning that there is some containment – very good news.

The reports are starting to come in about damaged and destroyed homes, but the evacuees still don’t know which ones or how bad. The initial reports say around one hundred structures in Rist Canyon – but they are expecting to identify more as investigators can get into the burned areas safely. More firefighters and air support are coming in today and the winds are still cooperating.

High Park Fire – Day 3

Smoke from the High Park Fire, June 11

Woke up to an eerie calm this morning. I think I used that word in my last post. It’s not one I employ often, but it seems appropriate again today. No wind and no sound of cars nearby.

While we’re not being evacuated, the main road that we use to get to our home was closed last night around 7 p.m. I hoping to be able to get back in when I come home from work tonight – and I have a full day at the office – seven clients.

We live just on the edge of the foothills overlooking Fort Collins. Not many trees around us and very little to burn on our house, but still. Until five years ago, we had a cedar shake roof – perfect combustible material (we’re not the ones who built this house). So, being concerned about just this kind of situation, we spent the big bucks and had a stone-coated steel roof put on. At this point, I’m so glad we did.

When the road closed last night, Peter and I decided to pack some things in case we got the call to leave. The cat carrier is in the car so as not to freak out the cats. They hate their visits to the vet. We got clothes ready, and put important papers and valuables in the fireproof safe.

I just signed up for Twitter for the first time this week…can’t believe how valuable it has been. Seems like it is the best place for breaking news. The Larimer Sheriff’s department has been phenomenal in Tweeting information @LarimerSheriff. And you can follow the details at #HighParkFire if you’re interested. The news this morning is 37,000 acres burned as of last night and all in areas where people live…I can’t help but feel sad today. Hopefully with the wind down, firefighting efforts can succeed!



Yesterday, as Peter and I were heading out to do some errands, we looked up the hill. “Uh-oh,” I said. “Fire.”

A large white plume of smoke rose in the western sky behind Horsetooth Mountain. As we drove east into town, we could see that the plume was further west than Horsetooth, probably by two or three ridges over. I pulled out my iPad and started searching…High Park Fire, currently 200 acres.

As the afternoon wore on, the fire grew quickly to 2000, then 5000, then 8000 and by this morning it was estimated that it had grown to 14,000 acres. It’s close to Fort Collins, and centered in one of the most densely developed areas of the close-in mountains. The Rist Canyon area hosts many mountain homes and retreats and the people who love living in our Rocky Mountains, but work in town, have built permanent residences as well as weekend cabins “up the hill.”

Last night, after dark, I went out to the street and looked north and west. An eerie glow formed where the smoke had been visible during daylight. As I stood there in the quiet I said a prayer for the firefighters and for all of those who had been evacuated – some of whom are friends and clients.

At this point, the fire is not contained at all. And the Larimer County Sheriff is continuing to order evacuations as the fire travels. With the emphasis on human and animal safety, he is working valiantly to make sure that no lives are lost.

In the past, I have talked with many of my clients who live in the area affected by the fire. When asked about fire danger, without exception, they say that they know of the risks, but the beauty and serenity that they glean from living in this special place is worth it to them. And Coloradoans are tough folk.

I’m sure there’s a higher purpose at work here. And it may be some time before all involved get to know what that is. And I’m sure that higher purpose will be different for different people. All we can do at this point is trust and serve.



©CathyUlrich and LargeSelf, 2012