Waldo Canyon Fire

A Cascade Welcome Home

To experience Meryl Runion Rose’s Cascadian pictorial chronicle of the Waldo Canyon Wildfire from the beginning, click here. To continue, click next below. 

Happy to be home 600

We were met at the Cascade turnoff by a local volunteer fireman. Bob took the materials and drove on up the hill. I visited with the fireman a bit before taking the trek to see what shape our home was in.

There was a congregation of neighbors on Outpost Road celebrating our personal good fortune and reprieve. There was no damage to any of our homes. Not even smoke damage. For a few, the fire burned to the edge of the driveway and stopped. 

We were so happy to see each other. (As an aside, I’m wearing the top intended for Water World.) We were (and still are) thrilled to be home. 

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This Isn’t Good: Manitou Springs is Evacuated

To experience Meryl Runion Rose’s Cascadian pictorial chronicle of the Waldo Canyon Wildfire from the beginning, click here. To continue, click next below.

manitou-evacuation

When we woke the first morning after evacuating to Woodland Park, we learned that Manitou Springs had been evacuated during the night. I didn’t take this picture, but I can tell you in posting it that this is the same road I traveled home the day before, wondering where the tall thin plume I saw was coming from. Cascade is five miles up the highway in the direction of this smoke.

It’s beginning to dawn on us that this might not be a short-term, temporary displacement. 

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Woodland Park is Evacuated. We Head North

To experience Meryl Runion Rose’s Cascadian pictorial chronicle of the Waldo Canyon Wildfire from the beginning, click here. To continue, click next below. 

Highway 67

I was on the phone with a friend Wednesday when we got the Woodland Park evacuation call. Our step-daughter had invited us to stay with her family in Erie Colorado. We drove through the Hayman fire-damaged roads. We were greeted with blessed rains on the drive. Just a few days before, the Trout Creek Fire had flared up close to that highway. The Woodland Park Firefighters had been putting out several arson fires daily before the Waldo Canyon Fire. 

People assume the roads were packed, but they weren’t. They evacuated Woodland Park section by section. We were the first to go.

The cat was okay with it all but I should have showed her where her box was before we left. Oh well… it doesn’t smell that bad. 

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The Cascade Volunteer Fire Department

To experience Meryl Runion Rose’s Cascadian pictorial chronicle of the Waldo Canyon Wildfire from the beginning, click here. To continue, click next below.

trail 2

Sunday (or was it Monday?) we discovered that The Cascade Volunteer Fire Department has a Facebook Page. It was so good to get on-the-ground information about what was happening in our enclave. This picture prepared me for what I would find if and when we returned home. This is the entry point for one of my favorite trails. I cried. But still, it was good to know. I was so grateful to them for what they did, and for keeping us informed when they could. 

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Camping Out in Erie

To experience Meryl Runion Rose’s Cascadian pictorial chronicle of the Waldo Canyon Wildfire from the beginning, click here. To continue, click next below. 

Bob and Somi 2

In Erie, we had seven people and six cats in a three bedroom house. We felt right at home. Somi, our step-granddaughter, offered us animals to sleep with. Bob took a pig and I took a bear. Of course we were also sleeping with our cat. 

It was great to connect with family there, and a special relief to be somewhere where life wasn’t defined by the fire. On the other hand, the Denver news stations cut the briefing coverage off exactly when they got interesting to us – like what was happening in Cascade. We streamed the news conferences so we could get the entire briefings.

We went to The ARC Thrift Store to get a bathing suit so we could go to Water World in Denver. (My idea of a great time in 100 degree dry heat.) Somi wanted a new toy. She had to pick an old toy to give up in order to get a new one. She thought for a moment about what to sacrifice and postulated…”Bob and Meryl?”

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Change of Winds, Change of Fate

To experience Meryl Runion Rose’s Cascadian pictorial chronicle of the Waldo Canyon Wildfire from the beginning, click here. To continue, click next below. 

Woodland Park Fire

We planned our days around the 8 AM and 4 PM briefings. In between we got out for a few walks and even visited Walmart on Tuesday. There, we saw the fire was moving in the Woodland Park direction. I took two pictures three minutes apart, and the growth between them was really notable. There’s no way we were missing the 4PM briefing that day.

Just before the 4 PM briefing, our friend commented on a gust of wind that was coming from the north west. He told us the city of Colorado Springs would experience that wind in about ten minutes. He knew that from being on the phone with people. We knew that strong of a wind could only be a trouble. We just weren’t sure who it meant trouble for.

Mountain Shadows was put on mandatory evacuation that afternoon during the 4 PM briefing. That was the first signal I got that the winds that were threatening all of UTE Pass, including Woodland Park had, in fact, shifted. There wasn’t much new information, but soon after I received the following email from my son:

“I’ve been listening to the fire radio all day, only hearing firefighters in Colorado Springs and all day it was upbeat, calm, cooperative, “we’re on top of this.”

An hour ago the fire jumped and all the firefighters retreated. They’re running and there is no fire control at this time, and there are structure fires. ‘What I would request is that we quit sending units to this location until we can get a handle on this.’ They are sounding very flustered.”

I listened to the scanner and heard what he was hearing. It took several minutes for news stations to start reporting on how fire was breaking out in the Mountain Shadows area as those residents fled. Firefighters were talking about which houses they could make a difference on and which they couldn’t. 

It was an unexpected change in the winds – one that had been forshadowed in the breeze we felt. We were monitoring it as well as we could from Woodland Park, praying for our friends. 

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Preparing to Lose Everything: Briefings and Colorado Fires Maps

To experience Meryl Runion Rose’s Cascadian pictorial chronicle of the Waldo Canyon Wildfire from the beginning, click here. To continue, click next below.house map 2

We spent Sunday glued to the local 24 hour news coverage. That’s how we first discovered that Woodland Park was on pre-evacuation notice. We continued to watch most of Monday and Tuesday, while also trying to figure out where we would evacuate to. We had offers in Colorado Springs, but Highway 24 was closed, so it would have taken 4 hours to get there. As it turned out, the Springs residents who invited us to stay with them were evacuated later.

Between the constant TV monitoring, we would check out sites like inciweb that gave update info and provided maps like the one above. (No, they didn’t put the arrow in pointing to our house. I added it later.) Now it was dawning how close we were to losing everything. 

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Woodland Park: Our First Evacuation Camp

To experience Meryl Runion Rose’s Cascadian pictorial chronicle of the Waldo Canyon Wildfire from the beginning, click here. To continue, click next below.

cat corner 2

With 100 degree temperatures in the city of Colorado Springs, we were happy to have a place to land up the hill in Woodland Park. It was warm there, and occasionally smokey, but nothing like my friends in Colorado Springs endured. We make ourselves at home right away. The cat took about two seconds to adjust to her new digs. She particularly liked being around the people with cat allergies, but she also laid claim to a shelf in our closet. We didn’t bring much, so we didn’t need the space for our stuff. 

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Our Last Look at our Home Before Evacuating

To experience Meryl Runion Rose’s Cascadian pictorial chronicle of the Waldo Canyon Wildfire from the beginning, click here. To continue, click next below. 

good-bye

By 4 PM when we left, the smoke was clearly visible behind our house. There wasn’t a single cloud that day. That’s all smoke. 

Leaving was spooky. Sheriffs were going from house to house. We were gone before they got to ours, but a neighbor told me they searched inside to make sure we were really gone. 

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A Half Hour Later

To experience Meryl Runion Rose’s Cascadian pictorial chronicle of the Waldo Canyon Wildfire from the beginning, click here. To continue, click next below. 

before we left

Bob is Mr. Prepared, but we still weren’t convinced of how threatening this was. To give you an idea of our thinking (or not thinking) Bob suggested we leave the kitty. He was thinking she would be more comfortable at home. I vetoed that idea immediately. Still, we both shared a sense of unreality as we packed. Ultimately, there isn’t much I left that I would take next time, but there are some things.  

While we were packing, the phone rang a lot. we were getting offers to help and for places to stay. A few friends tried to keep us on the line to talk, and we had to “SpeakStrong” to let them know we needed to go.

I took pictures of our stuff for insurance purposes, and went out for another picture. This is from 2 PM – a half hour after the previous picture from this spot. It sure had grown!

We were on pre-evacuation status for probably an hour before it became mandatory. The phone rang – it was a reverse 911 call telling us to get out.

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