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