It was with much trepidation that my husband and I made our way to the Mountain Shadows area Sunday morning where I own a second home that I lease out, to see what, if any, damage had been done by the Waldo Canyon Fire. We already knew that it had not burned but we didn’t know what we might find….broken windows, water damage, ash, or damaged possessions. I wasn’t really worried about the house, but more about the wonderful family that leases the house and what they might have suffered and of course all of my dear old neighbors. Because we knew one house had been totally destroyed on our street, there was concern about what the other homes might look like. (Our home was just fine).
There’s just a few words I’ll add as I go further with this story…the pictures describe what we saw better than anything I could write. On our way, we stopped at a gas station for some water, told the person working there where we were headed and she actually offered us free bags of ice if we needed any. Just another example of how our city has pulled together to help one another. It made me start to get teary before we even got close to our destination….just the kindness I have seen this past week for one another has been overwhelming.
Waiting in line to go through the check-in point. We were allowed to check-in between 8 and 10 a.m. to get into the neighborhoods. Everyone was allowed to drive in their own vehicles and allowed to stay in their homes till 6 p.m. that evening. We were given information sheets that stated our address, proof of ID and how many people were in each car….to be handed back as we left so that the authorities knew everyone had made it back out safely. The process was smooth and efficient with many volunteers along the way handing out bottles of water and just asking if you were ok.
Just a few examples of what we saw as we made our way up Flying W Ranch Road…..
My husband was kind of laughing (in a good way) at me because I felt the need to wave to every volunteer, firefighter, police officer and National Guard member I saw along the way.
We saw many fences and signs along the way with heartfelt messages.
As we pulled into the old neighborhood, the first thing I noticed was that everything looked just fine. Sprinklers were going, flowers were blooming and there was no visible damage to any of the homes. Then we rounded the corner and I saw my house and it too, looked as if nothing had happened. And I’m happy to say that there was no damage inside, you couldn’t even smell smoke. The utilities were still on so even the refrigerator contents were just fine.
And then you looked across the street and this is what you saw.
Total destruction. It’s amazing and scary how fire can act. How could all of our homes on this particular street have survived and this one not? We are so sorry for the family’s loss!
This is the house next to the one that burned down on our street. This bush was actually on fire and the neighbor across the street saw it and put it out, most likely saving the home. Again, people working to help another.
The firefighters did an amazing job of saving so many homes. There are a lot of wood shingled homes on our street and as I talked to our former neighbors and friends they said they could tell the homes had been hosed down really well by the firefighters, most likely saving them. This was on the sidewalk on our street.
We were able to talk to our tenants and our neighbors who told of how frightening it was to actually happen to look out the window and see the fire racing towards them. Long before the reverse 911 calls were sent out, many of them were already on the road evacuating. I can’t even imagine how they felt, what they thought and how scared everyone must have felt as they grabbed what few things they could and left, not knowing what they might be coming back to. There’s a cat in the neighborhood that apparently likes to roam and visit with everyone and as Jim and Jill (my tenants) raced out of their home with their pets and children, the cat must have slipped into the garage as they were leaving. When they got there Sunday morning, there was the cat….it had been in there since Tuesday but looked just fine and was enjoying fresh water and food that they gave it. Once again, I just have to say how happy we are for everyone who returned to intact homes and that Jim and Jill didn’t lose anything!
As we stopped on different streets to look in horror at the devastation, we came across this home that had burned down. We stopped to take a picture and there was a friendly woman who came over to us and asked if we were ok, and how were we doing. I told her we were just fine and asked how she was. She pointed to the ruined home and said it was hers. I immediately got out of the car and gave her a big hug….I didn’t even get her name but I did ask if I could take a picture of her…I told her how sorry we were for her and she said with determination, “We’ll rebuild and we weren’t hurt…for that we’re thankful.” Again, I was overcome by the spirit I felt…here she was, with a totally demolished home and she had stopped us to see how we were doing. It’s actually difficult to write this and think of what we saw without crying….
And even though I don’t know who you are, let me tell you, I admire your strength and appreciate your kindness and wish the best for you and your family.
Again, our hearts go out to everyone who suffered loss. And this was just a very small example of the devastation we saw in Mountain Shadows. We appreciate the volunteers and workers who were on the streets offering words of kindness, hope and questions of if we needed anything and offering words of encouragement. I am thankful my house survived, very grateful that Jim and Jill didn’t lose any belongings and hopefully will be able to return to their house soon (as with everyone) and overwhelmingly amazed at the destruction a fire can do and how it can skip from one area to the next without rhyme or reason.
Remember, there is a lot of work ahead to rebuild, regroup and the fire is still not contained. We think our firefighters, police officers, city officials, news reporters, volunteers and all the other agencies working to help have done a tremendous job! THANK YOU!