First Person: Ready to Evacuate from Black Forest Fire

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First Person: Ready to Evacuate from Black Forest Fire
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June 11, 2013 Northeastern Colorado Springs- The Black Forest Fire is just beginning.

FIRST PERSON | COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. - On Tuesday, in the northeastern part of Colorado Springs, the first sign of a developing wildfire slowly made its way into the clear blue sky a few miles behind my neighborhood.

Smoke was once again pervading the Colorado skies. At first I dismissed it as a small fire that the local firefighters would put out with ease. In fact, there had been one the previous day that they had put out quickly. So why should I worry? But then it grew. Facebook chatter picked up quickly as my friends began taking notice. At 3 p.m., I drove the three miles down the road to take a look at the fire they were now calling the Black Forest Fire. The police had a roadblock keeping people from traveling on a major road that runs parallel to the fire.

In the distance, I viewed a helicopter trying to dump water or sludge on the fire. Homes were already catching on fire and people and animals were being evacuated from their homes. Wind gusts and record breaking heat were sustaining the fire in an already drought-stricken city. My neighborhood, a relatively safe distance away, seemed untouchable. That night my family slept in peace (and naivety) with the unrealistic expectations that the fire would be mostly extinguished by the next morning.

Now it's close to sundown on Wednesday, and the Black Forest Fire has destroyed close to 12,000 acres and affected 9,500 people. Zero percent of it has been contained. Almost a hundred homes have burned in the past day and the numbers increase as I write. Unpredictable and gusty winds push smoke every which way for several miles in the sky.

Planes, some very large, constantly rumble over my house and Chinook helicopters can also be seen battling the blaze. I don't share my daughters' enthusiasm for the unplanned air show, but I do feel immensely grateful for the brave soldiers and firefighters battling to save my home. Now my neighborhood is on pre-evacuation orders and my bags are packed and ready to go. I can only hope that tonight, Mother Nature takes pity and sides with our brave firefighters.

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