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ABA Offices and Staff Homes in Colorado Springs Still Safe Despite Waldo Canyon Fire

Dear ABA friends,

I wanted to give you a quick update on how the ABA team in Colorado Springs is faring as far as the Waldo Canyon fire. So far, the news is good. The office is about 15 blocks from the southern end of the evacuated area. Thus far, none of the staff has had damage to their homes. As of now, all our homes are at least 2 miles from any flames, though the smoke has at times been troublesome.

It's a stressful time in this town and throughout much of Colorado and the West. It's not clear how the fire and smoke will impact operations at our office, which uses a swamp cooler rather than A/C and so is subject to filling with smoke easily. If you need to get in touch with us in the near future, you may have better luck using this blog, Facebook, or e-mail rather than the office phones.

We're thankful for the efforts of all the fire fighters who are working so hard to get this situation as under control as it can be. Here's hoping that the weather conditions take a turn for the better so that they have a somewhat easier and less dangerous job.

Below is a series of photos I took yesterday, Tuesday, June 27th, along with a few comments about how things unspooled.

We'll keep you posted on how things are going.

Best,

Jeff

 

Waldo Fire 12 1

At around 1:30, Liz, LeAnn, and I went out from the office to grab lunch. The Waldo Canyon fire was still largely north and west of the Garden of the Gods, visible just beyond the house here.

 

Waldo Fire 12 1

Planes were dropping water and fire retardant trying to keep the fire from spreading east toward town. Though burning since midday Saturday, the fire had not yet burned any structures.

 

Waldo Fire 12 1

The chemicals looked eerily like flames as they fell.

 

Waldo Fire 12 1

Around 4:30 PM, things kicked into a very different, more ominous gear. A huge smoke plume began to rise over the office in the sky to the north.

 

Waldo Fire 12 1

At this point, high afternoon winds had pushed the flames to the east and north at terrifying speed. This was particularly alarming for Liz and me, as our apartment is in the NW part of town. We closed up shop and headed for our place. The ABA office is the blue and white building at the right.

 

Waldo Fire 12 7

We made it home around 5:30, finding a spectral scene. Here Liz looks off our balcony toward the Rampart Range, normally easily visible about 3 miles to the west.

 

Waldo Fire 12 7

Though the smoke still had a incongruously pleasant odor, it burned our eyes and made our throats itch. But mostly, it was just frightening to have it look like this in late afternoon.

 

 

Waldo Fire 12 7

We did a quick run through the house, grabbing clothes and a small number of valuables. Though on one level I hated to leave things like guitars, paintings, and other objects to which we have a strong emotional attachment, it was easy to do. This Stratocaster has been with me since high school and I hope to play it again. But that's a minor concern, really. This exercise was a great reminder of how unimportant material things are, in the end.

 

Waldo Fire 12 1

This may sound silly, and on a population level it is. But one of the things that really worried us was the fate of the Barn Swallows nesting on the light fixture beside our front door. The parents, who we believe are the same pair that successfully nested here last year, hatched 5 babies last week. This is what they looked like yesterday morning as I was leaving for work.
Of course, local wildlife will be paying a terrible price in this event. But the successional changes brought on by the fire will benefit some birds and animals. It's all part of the grand drama of life on Earth. But there's no denying that it was hard to listen to the parents give their alarm calls in the hot, smoky air. I sprayed the nest and babies with a light mist of water from our plant sprayer and wished them luck.

 

 

Waldo Fire 12 7

It took us an hour to drive a mile. Odd to see so many vehicles loaded with what people had seen fit to take with them. Also strange to get back to blue skies and sun just a mile or two south of here.

 PS: It's now morning, town is full of smoke, but we're otherwise fine. Another fire has broke out near Boulder. We'll see what all the Colorado fires do this afternoon, when they tend to intensify. An advancing cold front may bring us some badly needed humidity, lower temperatures, and even rain in the next days. Let's hope.