By Steph Brady
On Sunday, July 10 around 3:30 p.m., I noticed we suddenly needed lights on in the house. I looked outside and thought, “there is a fire.” Usually you can see straight up the mountains. My husband Joe walked in and said “there’s a fire,” then the phone rang and it was my son-in-law saying “fire!” It was pretty surreal, yet very beautiful.
I believed it was Mother Nature’s way of culling the dead and the beetle kill. Joe and I hike up around Hayden Pass almost every day and had been seeing the brown trees for nearly three years. I had told him back in October we were going to have a forest fire.
The ash and smoke on Sunday and Monday nights were something else. We peered at the river with this bright orange sun shining on it and it was so beautiful.
Initially, we thought some careless campers had started the fire. We had been up the pass the Sunday before with my kids and grandkids and came across a hot campfire. We asked the neighboring campers about it and they said about four or five guys spent the night there and left in the early morning. They just left the fire! How could someone be so careless? My son and daughter put out the fire with trash cups and an empty potato chip bag, going back and forth to the creek. When I heard it was Mother Nature who started the blaze, I was somewhat relieved. We’ve got to teach city folks to have more respect for the mountains. You can’t leave a fire burning!
Joe weed whacked all around our and the absent neighbor’s house. Then he began watering – pulling hoses and organizing them. Joe saw people with chairs and cameras just sitting around the Vallie Bridge watching the fire. He said this fire was probably a once in a lifetime event. We drove to Westcliffe for a different view. It was spectacular.
On Monday I became really worried as the wind was howling, but it was that same wind that blew the fire east and away from us. I had taken the day off due to the fire and spent the day cleaning house. I kept walking outside. I got somewhat excited and a bit worried a few times. Then I thought, if it burns, it burns. I’m not buying into the panic.
People from all over were calling to offer their help or a place to stay. The love from outside communities was overwhelming. I felt everything was going to be okay. It was a serious fire and our firefighters did the best job ever. We were lucky to have all of them on board as well as our own Coaldale volunteer fighters. And then there are John Walker and Roxie Moore and all the countless hours they’ve committed to helping out. Thank you, thank you.