More than a dozen neighbors attended the gathering that was held for our benefit as new residents on the drive. Thanks to recent events, discussion was filled with tips about fire mitigation and evacuation procedures. Most of the neighbors where around three years ago when South Boulder Mountain burned, and a few remembered farther back to the Walker Ranch blaze. It's scary, they agreed, but what can you do? Fire is a risk you take when you choose to live in the mountains.
We sipped cold drinks on the porch as a black plume of smoke billowed from hills not so distant. Just standing outside, each breath felt a little like inhaling hot shards of glass. I'd already decided that I wouldn't exercise for the rest of the week unless the air cleared up substantially. Of course, concerns were much greater for those who had already lost their homes, thousands of dead animals, and other tragic impacts that were creeping closer with every harrowing gust of wind.
Since my friends and I first saw the plume of smoke while driving home from a trailhead near Nederland on Saturday afternoon, the Cold Springs Fire has taken over my thoughts. I admit to obsessively refreshing the various Web updates. Effects of the fire are hitting increasingly close to home. The southeastern perimeter of the evacuation zone is only about five miles away, and as of Monday evening there was still zero percent containment. Beat and I have been discussing our own evacuation plan. If things don't improve by Wednesday, we'll have to reconsider traveling to Silverton for Hardrock.