The Colorado Fires, A Farmer's Personal Story

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By Chris Downs | Jun 28, 2012

On Saturday 23 June, I saw the smoke plume before I had even heard about the fire. It was a massive towering chimney of smoke. It was coming from behind the ridge of the mountain south of us near Colorado Springs. 

We turned on the radio, and I heard that it was thought someone had inadvertently started the fire through shooting practice in the woods. It has been hot and dry here, record heat at and above 100 degrees for 6 days. Our humidity wouldn’t appear to even fill a thimble when looking at the relative humidity meter. Hot and dry!

The City of Colorado Springs had been removing fuel for the possible fire hazards for quite a while now. They were well prepared, otherwise it could be a lot worse. The first few days, there was no loss of structures and the firefighters protected the homes and kept the fire from jumping highway 24. It is a good size fire barrier, and to keep it from spreading was a great feat for them. 

That highway was closed to protect the firefighters and allow them to stay safe and focused on the job at hand. A fire line they did not have to dig up! Just keep the fire from jumping it.

The winds were constantly changing, and would just howl around our house, and the fire started moving north toward the Air Force Academy. It was finally evacuated, except for critical personnel. Hwy 25 was shut down for a while to allow for the traffic to move freely. The next night, the fire moved quickly in the middle of the night, three miles in ½ hour. The smoke plumes had grown significantly, and there were a lot more pre-evacuation notices that were issued.

The smoke got so thick at my house, I thought it had caught on fire from some of the embers. But it hadn’t. I just needed to chew the air a bit before I inhaled. We left for about two hours, went south to get out of the smoke, then returned home when the winds changed again from southwest to from the north. 

The entire section of lands west of Hwy 25 from Colorado Springs to County Line Road north of Monument and Palmer Lake were also placed on pre-evacuation notice yesterday. 

Some of the farmers were moving equipment and helped a couple of my friends with transportation. Our neighbors are ready, as well as most of the town. It is great to see that they take fire seriously. When we were done moving equipment, it rained here in Monument for about 10 minutes. It did not appear to even hit the area where the fire was burning the most, but it was nice for us.

As we prepared to leave, we videotaped all of our property for insurance records. We talked to our insurance agent to see what their rules and requirements are.

Then we went around the property and removed any piles of fuel for fires from around our house. Now we are pretty much ready to go if need be. 

How about you? How often do you look at your Farm or Home and look at your property from a fire’s point of view? All that you need is fuel/Oxygen and heat. It is a good time before it gets much hotter to take a moment and take some small steps to prevent a big headache later. 

To get in contact with me Click Here.

Chris Downs 

The Caretaker


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