Living in Colorado Springs, I have experienced the devastation drought can bring through fire. After so many years of Colorado suffering under this drought, most all of our state was prime for wildfire. This year the drought brought with it very hot days, which have continued to increase its effect. Because of the droughts hand in the Waldo Canyon Fire, causing the fires rapid movement and ability to jump reservoirs, The Colorado Springs community has suffered through the loss of homes, beautiful camping areas, and many privileges.
Spurred on by the drought, the Waldo Canyon Fire was able to jump the ridge separating it from Colorado Springs and leading to the destruction of many neighborhoods. I have family who came back to their house about a week and a half ago to find their home still perfectly intact; however, the houses surrounding them were all gone. And the beautiful natural landscape out their back window was completely burned. They said they left their sprinklers on, but they believe there had to have been someone providing this miraculous protection alongside the firefighters. In the past week, they have had insurance agents come in and assess any damage their home did suffer from the smoke and proximity to the fire. Now, although very grateful to have a home still standing, they suffer with this strange situation they have been thrust into where many of their neighbors of numerous years are leaving, and the value of their home has dropped significantly.
For a long time before this fire, restrictions on camping fires and fireworks have been in place because of the drought. But after the Waldo Canyon Fire, one of the biggest joys of going on a camping trip, making smores and sitting by the fire, is no longer an option. If you own a camper, then you could pop the marshmallow into the microwave. But let me tell you, it is not the same. My family loves camping. About a week before the fire began, we were up camping by Rampart Reservoir. To think that this beautiful wooded area that we had just spent a weekend enjoying is now completely burned is simply unreal. The very campsite we stayed at is now covered in ash.
Another sad impact of this devastating fire is that the heavily forested area where families, including mine, could go to cut down their Christmas tree is now partially burned. My family has spent many a day after Thanksgiving eating homemade “lunchables” and taking turns sawing what would become our Christmas tree.
Even after years of not being allowed to do personal fireworks, this year Colorado Springs’ typical firework shows were cancelled. Another family tradition gone because of the Waldo Canyon Fire, and ultimately the drought. Last year, we saw the danger of the drought after watching the Palmer Lake firework show when the fire engines surrounding the show area were called into action because a firework did set a blaze on the ground. Thankfully, the firefighters were able to put it out fairly quickly, but the reality of the drought was made obvious to us.
Although Colorado Springs has suffered a lot because of the drought, it has caused this community to come together, care for those in need, and respect the decisions made for our safety.