Julie Lence's Blog - Posts Tagged "fire"

The kiddies have gone back to school. Here in Colorado Springs, the school year begins in August and ends in May. As I look back over the past few months, all I can say is, “Wow! What a helluva summer”.

Colorado Springs was pelted with a fierce hail storm in June. Not that we don’t have hail—we do. But this severe of a hail storm hasn’t been seen in this area for many years. One section of the city resembled a winter landscape, complete with five feet of snow, except the snow was hail. Cars were buried in the freezing mixture of water trapped beneath chunks of ice. A flatbed had to tow them away, but not before the back hoe needed to be called in to dig them out. After a few days, and the many pictures and video clips that found their way through the news channels and Facebook, the hail was pretty much forgotten. And then, the fire came.

From my deck, looking toward the mountains, a plume of smoke could be seen one Saturday afternoon in the middle of one of the smaller mountains. Being miles away and without a picture-perfect clear view, it was hard for me to pinpoint the exact location of the smoke, but I had seen a few smoke plumes in the foothills before this day, so I didn’t worry too much. I reasoned the fire department was most likely on scene and would have it put out as they had in the past. Sadly, that didn’t happen. The plume broadened, and in less than a few hours, neighborhoods along the west side of Colorado Springs were being evacuated. KKTV interrupted programming with a breaking news broadcast, and like the rest of the city, I sat glued to the television screen watching that smoke grow into a huge fire. KKTV never interrupted their coverage, not even for commercials, until several days later. (Thank you Brian, Don, Dianne, Brandon, Betty and the rest of the gang for your dedication and the long hours you worked, sometimes doing duties that were not your own.) Diligently, KKTV kept the public informed of everything; closures, the path the fire was taking, the involvement of military planes, and the many firefighters who came from all across the United States to help.

As bad as the fire was, and as heartbreaking and frightening as it was to watch that fireball jump out of the canyon and burst down the side of the mountain and destroy almost an entire neighborhood, there is one good thing that came out of this disaster—the entire town came together in less than a day to help. Private citizens were opening their homes to strangers. Businesses were taking in pets and donating whatever service or goods they could to help. People came out in droves to aid Care in Share in food and sundry donations for the firefighters and evacuees. When Care and Share had a miles long backup, other stores stepped up to help take in some of the donations. A call was put out that a business sheltering evacuated horses needed hay and fans—they had an abundance before that nights’ dinner hour. All around, everyone had one thought—help the firefighters because they are here fighting for us. People even lined the streets during shift change with Thank-you posters just so the firemen could see and know how much this city appreciated them. And through it all, we had one calm voice guiding us—Jerri Marr from the forest service. Jerri was the go-to person everyone relied on for information and support. She was the presence that kept us sane, offering a reassuring voice every morning and night. I don’t know how she does that day after day, fire after fire, but she was truly a blessing sent to Colorado Springs in a moment of uncertainty and fear.

Finally, the fire was contained, the out-of-area firefighters returned to their homes (they will never be forgotten), and some much needed rain and cooler temperatures came our way for a few days. With the kiddies back in school, life is back to normal for most of us, but my heart and thoughts and prayers continue to go out to those who lost their homes. As a city of five hundred thousand, as a family of this many, we will help our brothers and sisters rebuild. And we will continue to take care of each other to the best of our abilities.
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Published on August 16, 2012 07:08 • 46 views • Tags: colorado-springs, fire, julie-elnce, mountain, neighborhood, summer