Presently, there is a wildfire in our county, Larimer County, Colorado, near Fort Collins. It has been named The High Park Fire. This wildfire has burned over 43,000 acres, an area that could contain both the cities of Fort Collins and Boulder. The fire is not in the cities, that is just a size reference. The fire is burning in the mountains where there are many trees dead from beetle kill and the underbrush is dry from lack of snow and rain this spring. So there is plenty of fuel. And wind has fanned the fire out of control.
Over 100 structures have been destroyed, including homes, of course, but not all are homes as the count does not distinguish between residences and outbuildings such as barns, sheds and garages. Regardless, that is a lot of property loss.
One life has been lost. A 63 year old woman, who had twice been called by phone to evacuate, either chose to stay or did not receive the messages. It is sad that she died in the mountain cabin that she loved.
Many others, hundreds, have evacuated. They are dealing with the fear of the unknown about whether their homes will burn. Others already know their homes have burned. Others have been allowed back in. Others on are pre-evacuation alert.
There is an evacuation center at the county fairgrounds. It used to be at a middle school but had to be moved farther from the fire due to smoke. At the fairgrounds, large animals of evacuees may be kept as well. Small pets were taken to the Humane Society until filled to capacity. Now a vet clinic is taking overflow. Many of the evacuated folks are staying with friends and relatives. There are kind people helping those in need in addition to Red Cross and Salvation Army.
The real heroes are the firefighters, of course, ranging from local volunteer fire departments to professionals from other states. The number keeps growing as the fire has grown. Today there were more than 500 firefighters, including “boots on the ground” and pilots of planes and helicopters that drop retardant and water on the flames.
There are many to praise and no one to blame. The fire was started by lightning, not even negligent humans, and especially not evil terrorists like those responsible for 9/11/01.
The Bible says that “It rains on the just and the unjust.” I pray it will rain on this fire.