Defn: a human male displaying evidence of devolution - exhibits distinctive "caveman-like" tendencies. This man often dribbles in public places; cannot drink a beverage without spilling it on himself, the floor or someone else; may also run into objects like lampposts & bushes; has a definite "sloopish & short legged" running style that is slow and low to the ground, often resulting in the dragging of knuckles.

These throwback neanderthals, along with their questionable diet, should clearly be avoided.

Monday, June 17, 2013

Black Forest fire impact on my home and family

It's hard to put into words what took place last week in my neighborhood.  The statistics will say that the fire is the most destructive in Colorado History: 2 dead, 509 homes destroyed, over 14,000 acres burned.  Lives are changed forever.

For me, it began Tuesday afternoon - slow day at the office so I asked my ex-wife if I could come and hang out at the house with my kids.  I left the office about 2:15 - started heading towards Black Forest and immediately saw the smoke rising from the fire, which according to later police reports had started about a 1/2 hour earlier.

My drive to the house takes me up along Hwy 83, right along the Western edge of the fire boundary.  Ten minutes after I went through, roads were closed that I had just driven on.  The fire exploded and headed East.  My drive was to the North East of Black Forest.  The twenty five minute drive from my office I spent on the phone with various people, all the while watching the smoke clouds grow and realising this was "the big one".

Having lived in the Black Forest area for about 14 years, I know the place well.  I know the roads, the trails, the topography, the shops, sights and many people who live within it.  Knowing the area that the fire started in relation to my house - as I was driving I thought the house would be safe, telling my family that I would give it a less than 5% chance of ever getting to their home.  I tried to be reassuring - but what did I know.

I stayed out at the house, approx 8 to 9 miles NE of where the fire started, until almost dark.  We climbed on the roof of the home to get a better view, then back in front of the TV to hear updates and watch what was happening.  We did this for hours.  The wind was strong, blowing from West to East - fortunately for us, blowing the smoke to the South of the home.

I left the home and headed back to my apartment for the night.  Waking Wednesday morning and deciding on a 3 mile run in Fox Run park - not much smoke in that area.  I finished my run and went to work.  As the morning wore on, my communication with my family increased as the winds picked up from the South, developing the fire even more.  The fire was now heading North, in a direct line to the house.  It was still a long way away - but it was heading in an uncomfortable direction - and it was moving quickly.

Early afternoon, smoke was now engulfing the house.  My ex-wife agreed I should come out there.  I raced out, even quicker than the day before.  By the time I got to the house smoke was so thick, visibility was at a minimum.  Breathing was difficult and anxiety levels were rising.  We gathered things of value.  Each person in my family considered things differently.  My 2 daughters got the biggest bag they could find and filled it with stuffed animals.  My son grabbed race medals.  My ex-wife had the important documents.  I just wanted to grab them all and get us out of there.

We evacuated - by now it was mandatory - so traffic was building.  We relocated to my apartment, West of the fire in a now "pre-evacuation zone".  The girls then went on to a friends house.  My son and I stayed at the apartment, then later that evening, we went to another friends house to eat dinner, and watch events unfold.  That night, as my son and I returned to my apartment - I didn't know if the house was still standing.

A sleepless night ended early - we got up and smoke blanketed the city.  The worst of the fires destruction was over but the uneasy feelings of so many people echoed - "was my house still standing?"  Helplessness, numbness, unsure as to what to do.  There was nothing we could do.  Trying to stay busy, my son and I went to the fitness center at the apartment.  I ran 4 miles as quietly as I could, watching and listening to the non-stop news coverage.

We left and I went to the office - I got word that my family saw live TV from a news helicopter that was flying over the house - it showed an army helicopter dropping water on trees less than a 1/2 mile from the house. It was still standing!  But for how long?  Fire crews were on the streets.  I thought it could be safe, but if the wind repeated from the day before - the damage might not be stopped.

The wind picked up from the South again, my apartment was mandatorily evacuated, another quick drive to get a few things out of there.  Anxiety levels increased again.  My family was graciously given the use of a house to stay at for as long as we needed it.  We drove there and waited, watching from a distance.  The irony was the house overlooked the Mountain Shadows subdivision in NW Colorado Springs - a panoramic view of the Waldo Canyon Fire damage was right there for us to see.  Was this what our neighborhood was going to look like?

The fire lists of homes destroyed was increased from 65 to 360 - our house and nearby ones were not on the list.  The closest home to ours that was listed as destroyed was a mile away.  Anxiety levels were feeling better.  Still, that Thursday night was another night of restlessness.

Friday morning bought good news, fire maps showed the house outside the lines.  It was looking better.  Still unsure, but better than it had been in the past 3 days.  I had a weekend getaway trip planned long before the fire.  I decided, and my family agreed that it was okay for me to go.  Mandatory evictions of my apartment area were lifted later that day.

I stayed in touch throughout the next few days and by late Saturday night - my family was allowed to go home.  The house was undamaged, although quite smoky.  No signs of fire on the property or neighboring lots.

I drove out there late Sunday afternoon, in a Thunderstorm.  3 detours past checkpoints manned by the Colorado National guard and I was finally there.  It was tempting to take a walk to the South to see were the fire got to.  Common sense prevailed and we stayed put.

So, the house my children have known as home for the past 7+ years is safe.  We won't forget the past few days.  Our appreciation to the firefighters, law enforcement and military personel is unable to be fully expressed in a simple "thank you".  Our sorrow is deep for those who lost their lives, those who lost their homes and those whose lives are forever changed.


  1. Craig - I am glad your home made it man. I really had no idea where you lived and how close this was to you. Seriously - about half way through this read I thought it was going to go the other way.

  2. Happy to hear all is safe and house still standing.