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A Perfect Firestorm

On Sunday morning, warm and sunny, we were walking through our neighborhood in Golden when we noticed quite a bit of smoke rising from the natural area in the foothills west of town.  Sure enough, by the end of the afternoon, there was a helicopter making regular runs over our house, which is one neighborhood removed from the general area of the burn.  A state highway was closed because the canyon it goes through couldn’t be deemed safe, what with juniper trees torching off every few minutes.  The fire grew from 5 acres to 550, then to 700 and finally at last word, to 1700 acres.

Based on my earlier posts, you’d think (and I did, too), that there was plenty of moisture around this area, after all the snowfall.  But, this year is actually considered dangerously dry– not enough snow at all.  And, it was close to 70 degrees F all of last week, and then the wind came roaring in.  Speeds of up to 62 miles per hour were measured at one point.  The helicopter and more recently arrived fixed-wing planes were grounded because of the wind.  Smoke advisories went into effect in Golden.  People were evacuated from their homes– but luckily, thanks to wind direction, not right in town, but rather the houses scattered about in the hills north of here.  A firefighting crew from out of state was delayed due to heavy snow in Wyoming.

Everyone hoped for rain or snow, and we got some on Tuesday night.  But, it wasn’t enough, and had little effect on the fire’s size (in fact, it gained 300 acres that night).  And then, suddenly, the smoke went away and the fire is now 77% contained.  I think it just ran out of things to burn.  A good thing, too.  The whole region is dry, and there are two big fires raging on the plains east of Denver.The Indian Gulch Fire was exciting, and maybe more of a close-call than we thought.  In the end, we really were not inconvenienced at all.  So, even though conditions were “perfect” for a fire, I’m grateful that they were not perfect for a blaze to rush through our little neighborhood.

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