As I write this, the wind has kicked up again. Flames are still visible from my vantage point, directly outside my balcony. As I write this, the calm that we’ve all felt for the last 12 hours is interrupted briefly, and I remember that, while the fire is still 2 miles away from me, it’s creeping ever closer to the town that my parents live in on the other side of the mountains. It’s not over for all of us.
Colorado Springs … it’s been on fire. If you haven’t heard.
At 2:30 p.m. on Saturday, I posted this to Facebook with the caption, “So this is happening outside my window.”
That was the early stages of the fire. It had been burning for about 3 hours at this point. Little did I know, in three days’ time, it would turn into this:
What you see before you? That’s the city of Colorado Springs, with the foothills burning behind it. It’s apocalyptic. That was the only word I could come up with, the whole time I was watching it happen. In person. In front of my eyes. The Apocalypse. 2012. Made real.
At the time I write this, an estimated 16750 acres have burned, and over 346 homes have been lost. This includes the historic Flying W Ranch. My senior year of high school, we traveled from Kansas to Colorado Springs for our band trip. I flirted with my now ex-husband there. I have memories. (Good ones, at that.)
This fire is the most devastating, in terms of homes lost, that Colorado has ever seen. Ever.
There are still tens of thousands of evacuees, praying for the best.
You wonder where Crunchy Betty has gone? (AGAIN?) This is where. We’ve been living directly on an evacuation line, and with every breath it seems like a flame could burst in the wrong way, sending us to a shelter and then – eventually – back home to a pile of ashes. Every moment feels like a triumph, because we’re still here. In our own house, our own bed.
I’ve been able to see the flames since this fire started, and tonight I still can. And you know what? For that, I am grateful. I can see the flames only because I’m still in my own house. Thousands of people aren’t that lucky. Hundreds of people don’t have a house anymore. We are immensely lucky.
Would you like to see what the fire looked like the second day? Before Colorado Springs burned? At a time when the firefighters were doing the impossible by keeping the fire from the ridge. If the ridge burned below this point, by the way, historic Garden of the Gods would be … toast.
I write all of this to update you as to what’s going on, but also to plead to you – as you watch President Obama visit this area today – if you feel it in your heart to help Colorado Springs, there is a way you can do so.
There’s a local food bank here, completely locally run, called Care and Share. They are angels and godsends, not just in this time, but in all times when people need help.
They are supplying all of the evacuees with food and other sundries. But that’s not all. They are also taking care of the 1000+ firefighters who are battling this horrific blaze on a round-the-clock basis with necessities, food, water, and everything they need to keep fighting the good fight. The fight that’s keeping so many of us safe.
If, in fact, you want to help us, here is their donations page, and you can earmark the money you donate to go to Waldo Canyon Fire relief (just fill it in where it’s appropriate). Every day – at least three times a day – they ask for different kinds of donations. One minute it’s Gatorade, and the next it’s socks. If you want to reach out and help Colorado Springs and its surrounding areas via donations, they will be able to purchase those things the evacuees and the firefighters need – desperately.
Right now, my part of town is mostly “out of the woods,” as they say. But I can still see flames, which means that we’re not as much out of the woods as one foot on the other side. This fight is not over for us – or the firefighters.
And as I leave you with this update (which hopefully will be a prelude to more constant “Crunchy Betty-ish” posts starting next week), let me show you the picture I captured as the fire jumped Queen’s Canyon and raced down the other side of the mountain, leading to the devastation hundreds upon hundreds of now-homeless people face.
As someone who considers herself a writer, I really have no words – at this moment – for what all of this felt like, looked like, or resulted in. Maybe in time. Just not yet.
I will say this: The sense of community is so strong here. Thousands of people offering their spare beds to strangers. Hundreds of people donating their time to relief efforts. No matter what, Colorado Springs will prevail.
But right now, we’re still holding our breath.
Again, if you have it in your heart to help us here, Care and Share is the best way to do so.
Otherwise, stay tuned for more Crunchy Betty in the near future.
And before I sign off on this tense night, let me say how much I respect, admire, and adore every single firefighter in the world. And I have to give a special shout out to our local CBS station – KKTV – for being the “all-knowing friend” I could count on through this entire ordeal. Their presence in the community is unparalled.
With that, let me say this:
Cherish what you have, but don’t be too attached to it. Wildly LOVE the people in your life, because they cannot be replaced. And they are all you’ll have in the face of something this terrifying.
Love your closest people – with abandon.
And, together, love all the other people around you – with compassion.
Nothing else matters.
Except, maybe, a healthy, day-long rain.
Woo wee. I am doing a raindance now – metro Denver’s getting a monsoon! Did ya’ll get some rain, too? I also did a little dance when I saw 98% containment today. I hope you are well. What are you doing to protect you from all the smoke? We had intense smoke on the 4th from a tiny fire in WY. I felt we were suffocating. Sigh!
I just donated. My best friend JUST moved to the Air Force base with her husband and 5 kids only a few weeks ago. Thank you for providing the link so I can hopefully help keep them safe!
Take care, Betty. Thank you for reporting on what you’re seeing/living. My thoughts are with you!
We live in the Hunter’s Point Area about 1/4 mile from Flying W Ranch and my son and I left to stay with family not long after they ordered the pre-evac, becuase it was looking a bit ominous. My husband came home ffrom work to finish packing up and left just after seeing flames start to come down our hillside, before they’d even ordered the mandatory evacuation. The dry storm hit that fast and jumped a ridge, taking everyone by surprise. Im still amazed that 20000 people evacuated safely and we only had two fatalities (though thats 2 too many). You know they area, there arent that many ways to get out.
As a Brit, we don’t have weather/events on this scale to contend with, but please stay safe. Be packed and ready to go just in case.
Dear Betty, your photos have given me chills and breathlessness. Being an Aussie, we are no strangers to these types of fires. I live in a bush area and we dread summer. We fret if we smell smoke and if we see it we become nervous wrecks. Sirens send us packing our precious things and when the fire bombers fly over we take off. Sending you all lots of love and prayers that this nightmare will burn itself out soon xx
I am speeding healing energy to all the hearts to those whom have lost so much. 🙁 I feel so sad at this devastating disaster. Also sending many good thoughts for safety to all there. Do stay safe and take care. Thank you for the blog you’ve created it is very much read, used, and appreciated. I also want to send some love your way because you are a wonderful person and you’ve helped me soo much thank you. Because of you I now make and create all my beauty care products and really enjoy my new hobby.
Namaste my dear friend,
Jamie Hartmann Patrick
Coming from a girl that lives in the woods with the 4th of July upon us, I can’t even imagine. We’re supposed to go to a friends that day but I’m afraid to leave the house cuz all the nuts around here with fireworks. I hope it doesn’t get any closer. That is just so scary and very sad for all the people that have already lost everything. My thoughts and prayers go out to you and all in the area. Stay safe!
P.S. Got the book and love it! Thx so much! I’m sure you haven’t had time to check your email under the circumstances.
Ugh, this fire breaks my heart. It’s so close to where I grew up. I didn’t know about the Flying W Ranch – my eyes teared up reading that it’s destroyed. I have so many wonderful memories of going there every summer. 🙁
Thoughts and prayers to all in the area. Stay safe!
My heart goes out to you from one natural disaster victim to another (dealing with major floods and sink holes in Suwanee county Florida) I wish I could drop this water on your neck of the woods. It was only a few months ago we were also dealing with statewide wildfires and I can attest to how disconcerting it is to have the ever lingering smell of smoke tainting the air but I was fortunate enough to never have to be faced with the actual flames.
I spent about 6 months in the Colorado Springs/ Manitou/Woodland Park area and it pains me to know that the region is suffering such destruction.
I hope things take a turn for the better, in the meantime, my thoughts and prayers to you and yours.
Hey there from Columbia county Florida! For sure I wish we could share some of this water out there. Wouldn’t it be great if it could work that way?
Wow. These are amazing. I wish you had a Photoblog account so I could add them to my favorites. I just love your mom to pieces. Sending all of you my positive thoughts, prayers and energy. Stay safe.
I am sitting here in Maryland and the rain is pouring. I have been crying and praying so much that the rain will stop and be sent to you. Fire devastation is my worst nightmare. I am so worried about losing everything, but you are so right, stuff is just stuff, and it can be replaced. I have been following you for over a year and I feel like a close friend is in danger, I will continue to pray for you and everyone involved. We love you.
ok C.B. ,,,,,, i told this to many people,maybe its time for you and your people
in our lives,storms come to destroy everything and its so bad,everyone look at the result,smashed homes,burned lives, adversity,……..but they are coming to give us another chance, to rebuilt again,a shelter………stronger,more beautiful,deep and everlasting. all the storms are in our life to make us have better things.
i wish you and your people the best……from deep of my heart and soul
My son lives about 15 miles (or so) from the other one up north. He lives in Wellington. (I live in Cheyenne, but have been down in OK since before the fire began.)
I have been folowing your blog for about 3 months. I have changed my entire skin regimen. Thank you. I cannot tell you how thankful I am for the simplicity of washing my face with honey. For the change it has made in my skin, as well as my very thin pocket-book. I come from a family of very blessed genes, we all have remarkable skin. On top of that, I have always been very picky about caring for my skin. The combination has helped me to keep a youthful look thanks to youthful skin and, as I said, great genes!
I regret that I have not written to tell you how much your skin regimen has changed not only mine, but my hubby’s face as well. It is your words and description of the devastation of the fire around you that brings my hands to the keyboard this evening. I live on the Texas Gulf Coast, meaning only that I am not a stranger to the wreckage Mother Nature can dish out. I have never had to face flames. I am exceedingly thankful for this. I have only dealt with deep water and winds. Water, that comes in a hurricane, is just as destructive as the tongues of flame. One leaves ash the other leaves your belongings rotting, covered with slime and mold. Nothing salvageable in either.
You have my prayers. You are covered with them. I have been praying, but not so specific as I will now pray.
Peace be with you,
Acupuncturists Without Borders is offering FREE acupuncture to help people deal with stress and trauma:
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Glad you’re ok!
Pack your car with things you love just in case the fire reaches your house without warning. You never know! Stay safe!
I am so glad you have stayed safe during this terrible fire. I am just south of Denver, and immediately thought of you when the fire broke out. Our girl scouts will be collecting items to send down to your area. The devastation is beyond belief. I can’t imagine seeing it take place right in front of my eyes. Stay safe, and thanks for keeping us updated.
Michelle Murski Anderson
Sending prayers your way hope and your continue to be safe from the fire! Thinking of u, sad about Colorado Springs my husband spent a wonderful vacation there in the early 90’s. Take care and stay safe<3
My thoughts are with you guys, this is bringing back so much pain as I’m a Black Saturday widow, my husband & my sons father died fleeing a deliberately lit fire storm, so please please stay safe, hug your loved ones, life is too precious & can not be replaced xxxx,
I am near Grand Junction and have watched the fire in your area with dread. It seems that our state is destined to be on fire this year. Stay safe, and healthy with all that smoke in the air. I will be donating to Care and Share. Thanks for the link. Hopefully you get some rain on that side of the state soon.
Being originally from southeast Georgia, I, too, have lived through and with wildfire. Now that we have moved, we just dealt with our first tropical storm of the season and the area is trying to recover from flooding. Both are terrifying. Both are amazing in showing the power of mother nature. You never know what will happen.
At least you and yours are safe. That is what is important. And after the fire, there will be rebirth. Things will regrow, people will rebuild, life will begin anew.
Becky in AZ
My heart goes out to all of you. Arizona has seen some horrendous fires in the last decade and family in TX were evacuated twice last year. The power and destructiveness of fire is utterly terrifying and heartbreaking.
Sending prayers and thoughts of comfort to you and everyone involved…thank you for this information Betty–I have family in Colorado Springs, but didn’t know you lived there as well. I also appreciate the link to the Care & Share donation site…I had money earmarked for giving, and this is exactly where it went 🙂
Stay safe. Hope some lovely cooling rain comes your way soon!
I don’t usually comment, though I always love your blog. Please, do stay safe. My prayers will join with your own, and everyone elses. Those pics are stomach churning! Namaste, dear. This too shall pass – but hopefully without further damage
I’ve been praying for you guys! As a previous Californian, I understand the fire thing. Almost every summer we’d have one come or three or five. 🙁 Firefighters are such brave souls and definitely are taken for granted. Thank you so much for the update!!!
Hethyr Helton Pletsch
Wow, your vantage point is incredible. We’ve been watching and worrying from the Old North End, but I”m seeing things from a whole new perspective through your pictures. You stay safe, lady!
Regarding the uncredited picture, it was sent by Sa Bine to KKTV 11 News on Facebook with this caption: “This
was the last picture I took before I ran to the house (taken from
centennial), packed up my family, important papers and left. This is now
approx. 3 hours old (don’t remember exactly). I do not even want to
know what it looks like now. Many thanks to our incredible and brave
firefighters!!!” Amazing. Also interesting that this is the same picture I chose to use on my blog on the 26th as our city was ablaze. It’s just so powerful.
Thinking of you – hang in there! xoxo
Susan Neel Wiederhold
Stay safe sweetie. We live in Fort Collins and have been dealing with the High Park stuff for 3 weeks tomorrow….it’s unreal. Politically speaking, it would have been better if the president just did a fly over or stayed away completely. It’s a distraction and a motorcade is one more mess on I-25. Take care.
I will be donating as soon as we get our payroll checks in the bank. I will be thinking of you and your family along with the people and animals running from this devastation.
sending good karma your way!!
Just made a donation to Care and Share. I have been thinking about you since I saw your post the other day and have been hoping you and your family are okay. Best wishes, and prayers for rain have been sent, too!
Amazing and horrifying. Thank you for your photos and front-row-seat perspective and as always, your insight. Love, love, love pouring out to all of you in CS. Posting to FB to share your links for donations.
Going to Care n Share now to donate. Living in So Cal, I’ve experienced several evacuations and it is so painful to have to leave your home. You just can’t rest until you see the smoke get lighter and the fire go over the mountain on the other side. God bless our firemen and pilots who work to put these horrible fires out. Stay safe.
Hey Betty – Hang in there. I’ve been thinking of you ever since this hit the news here in Copenhagen. Such a frightening thing to have to witness…
Brings back all the feelings I had when in a similar situation. Fires and floods… two of the scariest things to go through. My heart and prayers go out to the fire crews and everyone out there. How wonderful that your community has rallied to the aid of all those affected by this.
I live in Alberta, Canada, where we recently celebrated the one year anniversary of the town of Slave Lake being consumed by forest fire. It is THE – MOST – SCARY thing in the world, to see an actual forest fire raging. So my prayers are very much with you all in Colorado, and as you say, with each and every fireman (well, in the whole world really, but especially . . . ) in Colorado, especially the airborn. There’s no tougher flying than that. G*d be with you all…
So glad to hear from you & know you’re safe! You’ve been on my mind. A coworker of mine is one of those who has lost his home. Dropping off a load with Care and Share today, as well as donating.
Rowan BreatheMore TwoSisters
Oh Shit, that sucks. The Texas fires last year scared me in a way I had never been scared before.
Donating, sending love and prayers for a gentle steady rain, clear lungs and minds for the fire fighters and all the resources the communities need.
Hold steady Betty, we love you.
Donation made….thank you for providing the link. I have put the request out on my FB page. Happy to hear you are safe!
Those are some scary pictures! Know that we are all thinking of you and your community. I hope you get some rain really soon! Stay safe, and if you need to evacuate, DO IT. Stuff is just stuff, after all.
Lynda at bloombakecreate.com
This has been so sad to see this happen. Sending my thoughts and prayers to you and your family.
Thank you, my prayers are with you and everyone in Colorado Springs. I am donating now to Care and Share.
Sending prayers for love, ease, healing, and rain!
I’m watching this all from Ecuador – my family has a business in Colorado Springs, and like you, I have lots of pleasant memories of the area from my childhood. The devastation is heart-wrenching … stay safe, very safe, and let’s all pray for a good, soak-everything-through rain storm!
Cheryl Wilson Rushing
Prayers to you and your family. The pictures coming out of Colorado Springs are just devastating. Here’s hoping rain comes soon (minus lightning!).
I’ll be keeping you and your family in my thoughts, Betty.
What devastation these things cause :/ Glad to hear you’re safe, though.
My years in Southern California taught me to really appreciate our firemen, shelter and relief-providing groups and organizations, and volunteers–especially those providing shelter and care for the pets of people who have lost their homes or who have had to evacuate. The only good thing that comes from these fires is getting to see just how much our communities can bond and take care of each other.
Take care and keep safe!
I’m with you in spirit, my lovely. Been there too many times myself in the last 20 years. It’s no surprise to me that you are already reflecting on the community spirit. Keep your head up, we’re all thinking of you xxoo