As I was driving away from a wedding on Saturday in Divide, Colorado, I saw a cloud of smoke mushrooming up from the horizon. A bomb? No…I remembered that it’s wildfire season in Colorado and realized that this must be what one looks like from the road.
I could see the smoke clearly as I was driving down Highway 24 towards Colorado Springs. At Waldo Canyon trailhead, a place where I used to park my car and go running, emergency vehicles were staged. Firefighters in full gear were coming down the trail. I couldn’t believe that the fire was so close to a place I knew and loved.
I watched smoke and flames move along the hillside from the Red Rock Canyon Open Space in Colorado Springs…
…and found out later that the fire was devouring Waldo Canyon and that all of Manitou Springs was evacuated that night.
As of Tuesday afternoon, the fire had burned more than 5,000 acres and was only five percent contained. Local news agencies are only reporting that the source of the fire is “under investigation.”
Wildfires: How to Stay Safe
The National Geographic “Wildfire Safety Tips” article offers several great tips on wildfire prevention, evacuation, and what to do if you’re caught in a wildfire. Most importantly:
-don’t leave a campfire burning
-don’t discard burning or smoking materials (such as cigarettes) from your car
-follow local ordinances when burning, even if you’re only burning in your yard
-if caught in a wildfire, look for a body of water in which you can immerse yourself
-if you can’t find water, lie low in an area that lacks vegetation; cover yourself with wet clothes or soil
-breathe air closest to the ground through a moist cloth to avoid smoke inhalation