Monday morning during our Labor Day weekend, I was sitting in my family room working on a new series for coaching business leaders when the light changed. I knew right away. The light which had only moments before been Colorado bright and streaming through the trees had turned an eerie orange. Fire.
I stood and walked out onto the back porch. White grey smoke was covering the sky to the south and moving east. I looked towards the mountains and the thicker smoke that direction. I walked to the front of the house to get a clearer view of the source of the smoke and that's when it was clear that the mountains were ablaze. What is now officially the Fourmile fire had ignited around 10am, burst through stands of trees dried by death from the bark beetle infestation of the past few years plus the typically dry summer weather of Colorado's Front Range. First reports were of a fire that was moving fast, pushed by the mountain winds, devouring trees and brush, buildings and propane tanks.
By midafternoon, the sky was full of smoke, and a glow of fire colored the cloud. That afternoon, I went to the nearby grocery store for food and took this photo:
The fire dominated the sky, the air, and our thoughts. We have friends who live up there.
By late in the day, the fire had grown to over 3,000 acres. The smoke created an eerie view of the bright Colorado sun as we headed for nightfall:
The evacuation notices were coming quickly. Friends were texting and tweeting their whereabouts. Boulder exhausted its firefighting resources within the first few hours and state and national resources were called in. Reports of exploding propane tanks, homes destroyed, the historic town of Gold Hill threatened, and livestock needing shelter were all filling the airwaves and the Internet.
We did what we could to help, but at the time it was mostly to stay out of the way and offer assistance to those that we could.
By nightfall, the orange fire was clearly visible along the ridgelines, although this digitally-zoomed photo from my iPhone doesn't do it justice:
We wondered what Wednesday would bring.
More in the next post...