The unthinkable has happened. The Waldo Canyon Fire came roaring downhill into Colorado Springs at about 4:30 pm this afternoon. raycon and I are the only members I know of in town and he lives in Rockrimmon which is in the evacuation zone.
Please pray for us and for the firefighters who are up against something perhaps unprecedented in the country and almost certainly in Colorado. The conditions couldn't be worse. Dozens of homes are already on fire and large pieces of ash are falling on us on the east side of town. If anyone knows a rain dance...
Here's the local news feed if you can stomach it.
We've been busy the last couple hours preparing for evacuees. My uncle and two of his daughters and families are among the 32,000 people evacuated from their homes on the west side of Colorado Springs. My relatives were among those who had about ten minutes to get out. To say this fire is fast-moving is... the thunderstorm over Castle Rock which produced the winds causing the fire to scream into the Springs produced 65 mph wind gusts. This fire moves three miles in a flash according to the sheriff.
There are no barriers left to prevent this fire from burning up and down the Front Range. We've had 19% of our normal precipitation for two years running. There's so little moisture left in the atmosphere that even we longtime Coloradans are complaining of being thirsty all the time, as if the fire is taking moisture directly from our bodies.
There are over 800 firefighters from around the region on the scene. This isn't just a personal, local story anymore. The ramifications of the draw on resources regionally, on the economics all over the state, on the impact to the insurance industry... it may end up being the largest natural disaster this country has ever seen. Heaven forbid.
I'd post pictures, but they'd by lousy quality as the sunlight making it through the smoke cover is only serving to cast a sickening pall over the city. So dire are the circumstances -- the forested foothills aren't so much a natural feature as a fuel source -- that I caution you about what you pray for.
If storms develop over the area, the winds are likely to cause at least as many problems as the rain may solve. And the rains themselves may cause flooding now that much of the absorbent capacity of the terrain is damaged. My nearly unconscious prayer has been, Lord have mercy, Christ have mercy, Lord have mercy. And the gratitude I feel for the men who put themselves on the line... it brings me to tears.
Wednesday 11:50 update: Woodland Park is now under mandatory evacuation orders effective immediately.