On Saturday June 23, 2012 my mom and I were driving from Denver to Colorado Springs when I noticed a huge cloud of smoke coming from the Garden of the Gods area of Colorado Springs. As I drove closer to this smoke I noticed it was close to Hwy 24, which is the hwy I was going to be driving on. We drove down Garden of the Gods Road noticing the smoke getting extreme. As we turned onto 24 we started to notice the Waldo Canyon Fire. Driving down 24 through the pass I noticed the fire on top of the mountain. It was horrifying to see.What was even more scary was that a very close friend/co worker of mine lives across the hwy from the Waldo Canyon Fires location.
I arrived at work to work in Divide, CO at around 2:30pm to find that my boss and another coworker had went to evacuate her. They gave my friend a reverse 911 call to let her know to evacuate, then called back an hour or so later explaining that it was a mistake. The following day she received another call stating it was mandatory again.
As I woke up the following day I woke up to a red cloud of smoke outside my home. It was one of the most terrifying days of my life. This was all of the smoke coming from the Waldo Canyon Fire.I drove to work later that evening to find a crowd of people at the store I work at. These were people trying to get evacuated and to Colorado Springs. The main highway (hwy 24) was shut down in both directions due to the Waldo Canyon Fire. I had never seen so many people trying to leave the area. We were also one of the only gas stations that still had gas available, even though the news channels told people otherwise.
The smoke continued to come in from the Waldo Canyon Fire as well as the Springer fire, both were just miles from my home. I had to make a hard decision whether to leave my home or not. This decision was for my one year old son and my 62 year old mother, which both have been having breathing problems. I decided Monday night that I would have to leave my home, my job, and my great friends.
Tuesday night June 26, 2012 I was driving into Woodland Park to get a few last minute things before I left and I could see the fire Waldo Canyon Fire topping the hill above Walmart. To hear about the fire is one thing, but to see it with your own eyes is completely different. When I arrived at Walmart the smoke was so thick that you could hardly see it. This is when I knew I made the decision that was best for my family.
We left Divide, CO June 28, 2012 to avoid the smoke of The Waldo Canyon Fire and the Springer Fire. We had to think hard about our destination, nowhere in Colorado would be safe due to all of the Colorado fires that are going on. We could have drove 18 hours to Louisiana, which is where our family is, but that was too far away. We chose somewhere half the distance, out of the smoke, and hopefully somewhere we would be able get The Waldo Canyon Fire out of our thoughts for a little while. We chose South Dakota.
I am now sitting by my tent with my son and mom worrying about if the fire will reach our home. I have a picture taken of the Waldo Canyon Fire going into Woodland Park. The voluntary evacuation point in Teller County ends about 2 miles from my home. I have my great friends keeping an eye on my home, and I appreciate them more than anything. This is a scary situation for everyone involved.
It is hard to think that I could go back to nothing, no home or job, because of The Waldo Canyon Fire. What is important to me is with me; my son and mom. I pray for my friends that are still there and everyone that is involved with The Waldo Canyon Fire as well as all of the other Colorado fires going on.
Special Thank You:
Thank you to all of the men and women fighting the fire, helping the evacuees and helping in any way that you can. Everything that you do is appreciated by the people involved. Special thanks to the Teller County Sheriff Department and Fire Departments for helping with the Waldo Canyon Fire, The Springer Fire and preventing the arsonist from doing more damage than he/she already have.