A crimson sun shines though choking brown plumes like the strength of the 250 emergency personnel below it. The western wind, strong and unyielding, drags the heavy smoke up the foothills of the Colorado Rocky Mountains, through Wyoming, Nebraska, and into South Dakota while pushing the fire from the steep canyon walls toward the grassy pastures of Bellevue. What was just yesterday a small fire in the mountains, 200 acres lit from the lightning of the rain storm that so many had prayed for, has grown to 20,000 acres devouring homes and outbuildings, burning the dairy behind us and lapping at our western border. Police Cruisers lights dance behind the quiet haze against a backdrop of gray and rust saving people from seeing their property suffocating and singed. For so many there is no going home tonight, for some there will be no going home.
My junior high school has always served as the evacuation center for fires like this, except there hasn’t ever been a fire like this before. The air is too thick to inhale and the evacuees as being relocated another 20 miles away in Loveland, CO to be with their animals. Experienced fire fighters call the growth of this fire ‘incredible,’ most fires rest at night with the cooler temperatures but satellite data indicate that this fire doubled in sized and ran 6 miles.
This first set of picture were taken at Terry Lake north of Fort Collins as Highway 287 curves west toward the mountains.
These next two were taken on Bingham Hill, looking north west into the affected areas that are cut off by police blockade. As you can see the fire has come out of the mountains and is moving across the foothills.
This last set was taken north east of the fire in the range-lands of north taft hill road, north of the now closed highway 287. This is the same area that I shot the pictures from my first post, looks a lot different now!
If you have sharp eyes you can see a firefighting helicopter heading into the fire in this last photograph. As of yet we have eight 20-person crews and other firefighters on scene . Air resources on scene include: 5 Single Engine Air Tankers (SEAT); 2 Type 1 Helitankers; 2 Type 3 Helicopters; 3 Heavy Air Tankers; Air Attack; and Lead Plane. Approximately 15 engines are on scene. A Type 1 Management Team has been ordered and are expected to take over management Monday morning. Additional ground, air, and engines have been ordered.