The fires have been spreading and the evacuation zones have been shifting but the 100 degree temperatures, wind, and little humidity have made the various hot spots hard to contain. We drove through Manitou Springs after it had been evacuated Sunday morning via a backroad and it was a ghost town. Only one solitary 20-something roaming the popular tourist town. It was eerie.
We watched from a Manitou neighborhood on a hill as the fire crept towards million dollar homes higher up and spotted planes dropping red powder almost in vain. We hiked somewhere South of Garden of the Gods Monday evening when everything was just hazy from the change of wind that was blowing it back through the Springs. It was so quiet despite the crowds of other hikers gathering with the same curiosity.
Tuesday felt much worse. The kids and I ventured out to run some errands and realized the plumes of smoke were covering most of the sky to the North. It looked as dark as a thunderstorm that's about to rain down some hail and a tornado or two. It was so blue and clear to the South, though.
From Academy near Platte (photo above) I could see the mountain range clearly and despite being miles away, lines of orange flames were visible on the mountain side as they'd flare up and then be covered with smoke. I had an older woman pull up beside me that told me which areas were burning and what historic sites were liable to be destroyed. She gave me a hug before we left.
We drove up to Academy and Austin Bluffs (photo above) to Hancock's fabrics and took this shot of how dark it was. This was more parallel with the fires and the smoke was much more noticeable as we stepped out of the car. An hour later the wind had shifted south again and there were ashes falling in our driveway like light snow. This is what was happening.
We're about five miles south of the evacuation zone with all of downtown Colorado Springs in between us and the fires so we're in no immediate danger and probably won't be unless things get out of control later this week but it's heart breaking to see the mountains on fire and to know there are so many people losing or in danger of losing their homes.
My family is arriving Wednesday and Thursday for a week of vacation and to celebrate Sebastian's birthday but I have a feeling our plans might be rearranged a bit. There may not be a drive to Pike's Peak or a tour of the Air Force Academy this time.
I've heard so many IGer's from in town and around the state share how they know someone who has had to evacuate already or can see the smoke from hours away. I don't think I realize the magnitude of this kind of natural disaster just yet.
I'll be sure to check in here in the next few days but with family visiting and a birthday to plan it may just be quieter in general. Thanks for the concern on IG and Twitter. Now how about some rain...