As Bryon drove down to Boulder on Sunday morning, police vehicles blocked the westbound lanes as smoke arose from the hills on the northwest side of Boulder. I had heard sirens as well, and did a quick internet check of Boulder’s daily newspaper, The Daily Camera. There it was — Breaking News — a wildfire had broken out in the wee hours of Sunday morning, forcing the evacuation of hundreds of Boulder residents in the middle of the night.
Bryon called me to tell me the news, and I had a PTSD flashback to last summer. He assured me we would probably be fine as the fire was over 9 miles away, and the winds blowing out of the west were actually pushing it away from us. But I won’t lie — it scared me. I had fears of leaving the house and not being able to get back, of the animals being trapped. All those fears came flooding back to me.
And all I could think of is — here we go again.
March feels far too early to have to worry about wildfires breaking out, but here we are. After nearly two months of dry, warm and windy weather — red flag warnings are up. Up and down the front range, fire bans are posted, warning people not to do any kind of open burning.
Even on a short trip to Colorado Springs this weekend, blinking signs above Interstate 25 warned motorists of “extreme dry conditions — fire ban”.
After months of procrastinating, I started work on my book again the other day. I had been wanting to write about our experiences with the Cold Springs Fire, but couldn’t get myself to sit down and type. Pulling up one of my old blog posts to use as a starting point, I started to write.
What I hadn’t fully comprehended was the emotional pain it would draw up. As I wrote about the events of the day the fire broke out, all the pain and trauma came flooding back. I found it almost impossible to even continue typing the words, suffering from my own personal PTSD.
And it’s not just through words, and it’s not just me.
Both Bryon and I have dreams — nightmares — of awaking to see fire racing up the hill behind our house. I worry about leaving the animals alone, of not being able to get back to the house to save them.
I was scheduled to teach skiing today over at Winter Park, and my first thought that flashed my mind yesterday was — oh my God, what if for some reason that fire in Boulder gets out of control and I can’t get back in time?
So my first action this morning before I left — putting the note on the door notifying firefighters that two dogs and two cats are inside…. just in case.
I’m happy to report the Sunshine Fire in Boulder is now 100% contained, no property was damaged and the residents were allowed to return home. A bullet has been dodged. But what about the next time?