Two weeks ago I was headed towards my sister's house on the west side of Colorado Springs. As I waited to make the turn onto her street I noticed huge black clouds and leaping flames in the horizon. Something was on fire.
Cedar Ridge, a community of beautiful, upscale homes, seemed to be engulfed in flames. Many neighborhoods and mountain communities were threatened and evacuation was mandatory. The fire appeared to have started in Waldo Canyon, a popular hiking trail up Highway 24.
The fire had everything going for it. Colorado has been in a drought for years and the mountain snowpack was non-existent. Winds kicked up and greedy flames devoured the straw-like underbrush. The most destructive fire in Colorado history was born.
Two people died. 346 homes were destroyed and countless others were damaged. 18,000 acres went up in flames. At the height of the fire 30,000 people were evacuated. A popular local attraction, the Flying W Ranch, was totally destroyed. It had stood for 60 years.
Heroic efforts on the part of firefighters from all over the country have the fire at 70% containment now. It will be at least a week before the authorities feel they have it under control.