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Monday, July 09, 2012

The Waldo Canyon Fire: Saving the Motorcycles

Here in Colorado Springs, the locals and media have been focused on the Waldo Canyon Fire. This fire started the end of June, and within a week, had burned over 18,000 acres. As of today, the fire has been 98% contained and we've been experiencing rain the past few days, so the threat of danger is about gone.

Unfortunately, about 350 homes have been lost and two people have lost their lives. Most of the damage was done around 4:20 pm on Tuesday, June 26th when the fire blew over Queen's Canyon and ran down the mountain face to devastate the Mountain Shadows Community. None of the firefighting experts anticipated this happening; the fire was on the other side of the canyon and they felt that the city had protection since the likelihood of the fire coming to the top of the ridge, down into the canyon and back up then to the face of the front rage was highly unlikely. The fire crews had been working to cut fire lines to contain the fire.

Until the perfect storm.

A thunderstorm formed changing the speed and direction of the wind. The storm generated 65+ MPH winds--pushing the fire to jump over Queen's Canyon and down towards the city. In a blink of an eye and within 20 minutes, the city was facing a raging fire at its doorstep.

In the midst of all this activity, a group of my close friends were on vacation--out of state. They returned back on that Tuesday. They did not travel together, so they started arriving around 6:30 pm--about two hours after the start of the fire storm. One friend was lived in an area that was pre-evacuated. I was caring for the house and pets, but after the pre-evacuation, decided to move the pets and gather important personal belongings. If the city had called a mandatory evacuation, it would have been difficult to get in to get the pets and items out since I was house-sitting and didn't have any documentation stating otherwise (I mean, really, who'd have thought something like that to happen?).

After the firestorm, his neighborhood was called to mandatory evacuation. My friend arrived back to town at  8:30 pm and did manage to get up to his home to get a few more things. He told me that he had never seen the entire ridge up on fire and burning like it did.

I had another group of friends that arrived back to town around 11:30 pm Tuesday. They had not called any evacuation, but the speed and ferocity of the fire stunned everyone and frankly, people were freaking out. The fire was creeping closer to those friend's homes and by Wednesday afternoon, the decision was made to  at least get the motorcycles out. It was something that could be moved quickly.

My friends and I gathered up into a small group and we drove down. To evacuate: five motorcycles--four to be stored at my home and one to be stored at another friend's place. For those that ride, the motorcycle is a very personal item. Many riders spend time and money personalizing their iron horse. In addition, the adventures that are "found" during rides form strong and lasting memories. So the motorcycle does become an extension of a rider--almost a living and breathing thing.

The smoke was pretty heavy since the fires were burning so close to the city. Fortunately, the wind was being cooperative. Until the WIND SHIFTED.

Fires bring special weather and that day was no exception. Riding back home, we felt the temperature drop and the wind once again shift. Riding back was a scary experience--the air grew very heavy from the smoke and we were pelted with ash and soot.

We did make it home with no incidents, thank goodness!

The motorcycles were safely stored and more importantly, my friends did not suffer any fire loss or damage.

Last week, we worked to return property and most order in our little group has been restored.

Sadly, I do have friends that have suffered losses and are working through the process to try and get back to "normal". I have faith that they will persevere. In addition, I have pledged to volunteer my time to help the victims of the Waldo Canyon fire.

My lesson learned is that life can change in a blink of an eye. I am glad that I was able to help my friends in their time of need.

Until next time,

Keep the Shiny Side Up!

~The Rainbow Wahine

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