Ginger is in Colorado Springs visiting relatives. She was caught up in the mandatory evacuation. Here is her story. (See also her From This Corner column this week.)
WOW... what a crazy experience.
We were put on emergency standby on Monday and pre-evacuation on Tuesday morning. Tuesday at noon the fire blew up and by 4 pm all hell had broken lose. The fire tripled in size within three hours. We were given a mandatory evacuation at 3 pm and made it out with just what we could grab.
The Red Cross shelters were full and/or couldn't take animal,s and our daughter has two great danes and a frog. The military didn't have time to set up evacuation plans for the 2,000 residents that live on the USAF Academy. PLUS... all the new cadets and their families (1,000+ people) had all arrived on Monday so all the hotels were full. We were left homeless. Thank God a friend of the family has a large six bedroom house and they're on vacation in Georgia until Saturday. So we've been camping out here since last night.
Not only was the USAF Academy evacuated, the entire west side of Colorado Springs was also given a mandatory evacuation order. This brought the total to 32,800 evacuees. As happened yesterday, this morning the fire changed directions several times which brought additional evacuations so tonight we are among the 40,000+ people without a place to stay which activated even more Red Cross shelters. Today the USAF opened a "tent city" shelter for all of the USAF Academy evacuees in Fort Carson about 60 miles south. I am not eligible to go with the family since I am not their dependent.
Overnight the fire tripled in size and is now 19,000 acres. There are more than 1,000 firefighters and every possible resource you can think of except rain. We did have several dry thunder storms pass overhead today. Tomorrow the weather is suppose to be more on our side with cooler temps (mid 90's) and some humidity. On Monday a new statewide high of 108 degrees was reached in Pueblo, CO.; we were 102 degrees which also set an all time record for Colorado Springs.
As I'm sure you know, moments like this can and do bring out the emotional trigger points in a family and ours is no different. Patience, communication and compassionate understanding seemed to get lost in the smoke. Life here is stressful at best and emotionally overwhelming on an hourly basis. Thank God we're all alive and safe.
Tonight was the first time since Saturday that we had a real sunset that wasn't engulfed in smoke so I'm praying the worst has come and gone. If all goes well and we are able to go back to their house on the academy on Friday, I'm going to be heading back home on Sunday or Monday. I've had enough and miss my hubby and my Webster... yes, Webster.
Please keep us in your prayers. G