The Hazards of Mountain Living: Colorado Forest Fires

Copyright JC Politi Photography

(First, a quick note for my family: The photos in this blog post make the fire look closer than it is. We are fine. I promise.)

Without question, the news of the times in our house right now is focused on forest fires. I have lived in Colorado for the better part of 10 years. I have followed news stories and inhaled smoke when winds changed from countless fires over the years. It is a part of living in the mountains.

But yesterday, while driving back from a business meeting, I saw the first plume of smoke that was much too close for comfort. This fire is different. This fire is 3 miles from our house, right behind the foothills that have provided us with the most spectacular view for years. People say fire does not usually travel down a mountain, which provides some comfort, since this fire is currently on the other side of the mountain.

Copyright JC Politi Photography

We do not live nestled into the mountains. There are streets and even a small neighborhood between our house and the fire. It is highly unlikely that anything will happen to our house. But we are in the pre-evacuation zone and the winds are picking up. And the plumes of smoke are ominous.

Copyright JC Politi Photography

While we honestly do not think that any harm will come to our home, these types of experiences certainly make you think. If I had to leave with only what would fit in my car, what would I take? How would I walk away from all the comforts that surround me knowing that it may all be gone when I return? Does any of the “stuff” even matter?

What do you think? Have you ever been in a wildfire, tornado, flood or hurricane? Did you evacuate? What lessons did you learn through this experience?  If you had to leave with only a few things, what would be on the top of your list? What advice do you have for me or for others who may face this type of experience in the future?

I hope you will share your thoughts. And thank you for reading.

Copyright JC Politi Photography

Copyright JC Politi Photography

Copyright JC Politi Photography

Copyright JC Politi Photography


Copyright JC Politi Photography







Filed under Colorado, Environment, Forest Fires, Health, Photos

42 responses to “The Hazards of Mountain Living: Colorado Forest Fires

  1. I was stationed at Falcon AFB and then Peterson AFB in Colorado Springs for almost 7 years and it just breaks my heart to see the place I loved the best of all assignments burning like this! When I was stationed at Patrick AFB in Florida I had to evacuate 3 times in one year! We grabbed the cats, clothes, some food, my trunk full of journals, our pictures, file cabinet of important papers and computers. Because we were Active Duty, we were compensated for staying in hotels. What an ordeal! I hope they are able to contain these monsters burning right now. The only good thing out of it is the clearing of all the dead trees and may be killing beetles killing the trees. It’s unfortunate people and property are in the path of this cleansing. I hope you and your family will be safe and property unharmed!

  2. Honestly, I’m more concerned for you and your family – I can’t even remember which earthquake I was in to reference. Please be safe, and take good care!!

  3. When we lived in Indiana there was a tornado exactly five miles from our house once. It was the first and last we’ve ever encountered. Oddly enough, I don’t remember being scared.
    That’s scary – I do hope you and your house remain safe! I often wonder just the same thing when I see such damage in the news. What would I do? If I only had a few minutes, what would I grab? People and animals would obviously come first. But what after that? I’ve never been able to come up with a decisive answer.

    • Yeah, I don’t think we have to exactly worry about losing anything in the house, but it does make you think…tornadoes are my worst fear. We were in Houston for Ike and that was terrible, but tornadoes are so unpredictable and scary!! Thanks for your comment!

  4. Take care of you and your family. Thanks for making this more real for others. Sincere best wishes.

  5. I have never lived through something as harrowing as this. From what I have read, this one is very serious. I suppose I would pack up essentials and get further away — preferably “visit” a good friend for a few days until you see how things are going! My thoughts are with you!

  6. I have never had to evacuate, but towns close to me have had to do so. On another note. I don’t know if you’ve ever landed at the Calgary airport but it is like landing in Denver, it’s eerie actually and we’re both oil, cattle, foothills and the people are similar in mannerisms…it’s just…..eerie… 🙂 Hope you will remain safe.

    • Really? What a fun fact! I had no idea! A sister city! Then you know how my heart dropped yesterday when I saw the plume so close to the house. I am very optimistic that it will turn out fine, but it has been a bit nerve-wracking. We got some good rain today. Just pray for no wind. This is a windy spot at times, but we hope it stays away for now. It hasn’t grown, so that’s a good sign. But it hasn’t shrunk either. Thanks for the good wishes!!! I’ll keep you all posted. All signs are positive right now. Thanks again!!

  7. Your situation seems much worse than anything I’ve been from a natural disaster perspective.
    When I was young, maybe about 10, we once had a tornado go over the top of our house and take off the roof of the house a few doors down, but it never occurred to me at that age what it would be like to lose everything. Now, that I’m older, I can imagine that losing everything would be devastating for most people. I certainly hope it doesn’t come to that for you. Sounds like you’re being careful, but my prayers and concern are still with you.

    • It looks like the weather was on our side here. It looks much better today. It still could turn, but it looks like we got lucky, unlike the devastation in Colorado Springs. Tornadoes are my biggest fear.

  8. We had a small (even small looks huge when you’re in the midst of it) fire in the back of my house a couple of years ago. Contractors had left the dust and wood left over after sanding a wood floor in a garbage bag near my porch. I had always had a list of all of the things I’d take starting with photo albums. I have to say my only thought was my kids. Nothing else seemed to matter.
    Keeping you and your family in my thoughts.

    • That was kind of how I felt – especially in the digital age, I figure if I take my computer, I have many of my photos. And other than that, I would be sad to lose things, but really I just wanted to make sure my family, including my pup, are all safe. I can’t believe you went through this and it was caused by contractors. That is terrible!

  9. Such a scary position to be in! It is hard to think about what one owns that would be crucial to pack and bring with you when disaster strikes. I’ve known people who have had to pack up and leave almost everything behind when caught in a war zone. A friend was evacuated because of flooding near them, but was fortunate that their home wasn’t affected after all. Last fall I was visiting my sister-in-law in the country when we heard about a forest fire nearby. It was a little scary, but it completely missed us. Unfortunately, others were not that lucky. Hope you and your family stay safe & that the fire dies soon so no one else is left homeless. 🙂

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  11. Ruth Nolan

    Your Aunt Nancy shared this with me and all I can say is, Wow. I’ve been following this and thinking of you and yours. At any rate, stay safe — sounds like you are no longer in the possible evacuation. Ruth Nolan

    • Good old Aunt Nancy! 🙂 Hi Ruth! Yes, we seem to be pretty much in the clear right now. Hopefully it will stay that way! Thanks for the thoughts and for letting me know! I hope you are doing well and have many fun road trips planned again this year!

  12. The fires are horrible. The pictures show exactly how bad they are. Today I saw on the news a couple of who was aloud to go back to their home only to find it burned down to the ground. It is all very heart breaking. Please take good care of yourself.

    • Absolutely. We were very lucky in Boulder. No wind and then we got some rain. I think this fire is just about done. But it is going to be a long summer. Thank you for the worry.

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  14. This is a bit tardy, but I am glad that your home was spared.
    There’s no place like home, there’s no place like home. Z

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