The Fourmile Canyon fire has now scorched an estimated 6,365 acres and has destroyed 169 homes, as well as other structures like sheds and barns. The fire, located northwest of Boulder, Colo., caused the evacuation of 1,000 homes and approximately 3,500 residents.
The fire is now the most destructive blaze in Boulder’s history, even more damaging than the 2002 Hayman fire, then the most destructive fire to date. Only seven of 19 heavy air tankers operated by the county have been deployed to fight the blaze. Most residents have evacuated but a few remained, risking their lives to defend their property. Although they braved the dangers, much property was still lost.
In 2008, the Humboldt fire claimed 23,344 acres, leaving 87 residences destroyed and seven homes damaged. The total number of outbuildings destroyed came to 167. This fire had some dangerous moments for many Paradise residents, including our family. Evacuations occurred for hundreds, but nearby residents watched the news, skies, and their roofs regularly. It is not uncommon for fires to spread due to the wind, and embers fall like snow in the winter. Day after day, the Humboldt fire taunted its northwest border but never crossed into the local neighborhood.
As the fire continued to burn for 10 days, residents had to keep doors and windows tightly shut to keep ash and smoke from damaging the interiors of homes and try to keep the indoor air as clean as possible. Pets even knew that danger was nearby, taking care of their daily business quickly and returning inside. One of the strangest and most ominous sights is the glow of the fire in the skies.
The thick smoke and a looming possible evacuation made for many sleepless nights as the television stayed on, covering fire details. Every news update could mean abandoning your home and potentially losing everything. Keeping in close contact with family and friends helped pass the time and arrange for alternate lodging if you didn’t want to go to the local shelters.
The local papers updated as the story progressed to keep local residents informed, but the small, peaceful town was truly unsettled for about two weeks, uncertain of the ability of the fire fighters to control the fire line. At the darkest hour, you could actually think that Paradise might be lost. Though tens of thousands of acres were lost, the heart of Paradise remained intact. In the end, Paradise was spared from major losses, and our family could breathe a sigh of relief.
I know the residents affected by the Fourmile Canyon fire will breathe easier once the fire is under control both emotionally and physically. The uncertainty is difficult on families and fire crews.
SourcesAssociated Press. (2010). Fourmile Fire called ‘worst’ in Colorado history, at least 169 homes destroyed. Kdvr.com.
California Department of Forestry and Fire Prevention. (2008). Humboldt Fire. cdfdata.fire.ca.gov.