I know I skipped right over the holiday period, but I promise I'll do a recap in the near future. The reason I can't do it now is that KnPnCnC are holed-up in a hotel room, evacuees from a wildfire that is burning at the northern tip of our neighborhood.
I heard earlier in the day about a wildfire several miles north and east of town that was started by high winds knocking down an electric transformer, and it catching the grass on fire. I didn't pay much attention to it since the westerly winds (gusting over 80 mph locally, and over 90 mph in the region) were fanning the flames away from us.
Then, when I picked up Chloe from the bus stop, I received a call from a friend asking me if I could take her kids back to our house because she's stuck in a traffic... the police shut down roads north of town. I thought that strange since the fire I knew of was pretty far away. When Susie arrived to pick up her kids, she said there's another fire, this one just north of our neighborhood and on the other side of the ridge.
After Susie left, I took a drive up to the northern tip of our neighborhood to see what I could see. There was plenty of smoke, and I could see some flames. But again the west winds led me to believe the fire would stay away. I came back to the house, and took Peggy and Chloe to see the fires, and in that short time, the winds spread the fire quite a bit. It was about 5 pm at this point.
Again we returned home, to see what news could be found online and on TV. It was about that time that we began to see evacuation notices for area neighborhoods, but not ours. We looked out our bedroom window to the North and saw A LOT more red and orange outside our neighborhood then we saw 15 minutes prior. We jumped back in the car to see what was going on, and what was a lot of smoke and some flames 45-60 minutes ago, was now covered in flames and inching slightly southward. It was then a Fire Dept. official came up to our car to ask us to clear the area as they are going to start evacuating the neighborhood... our neighborhood.
We drove back to the house and, within 30 minutes, loaded up what we think we'd need or - worse case scenario - want... photo albums, computers, important files, clothes, pet, etc. We took calls from friends offering a place to stay, and a reverse 9-1-1 call from the Boulder Sheriff's Office, officially telling us of the mandatory evacuation.
At about 6 pm, after a final glimpse around the house for things we'd want to take with us, we got in the cars and, before finding a restaurant for dinner, drove up to take another look-see at the fires. Thankfully, the winds had subsided substantially, and the flames had lessened in intensity. But by no means were they out.
After dinner, we found our way to a Starbucks for its wi-fi. Peg got on her laptop and read that our neighborhood was still under evacuation orders and that it would probably be so for the night. Though he is an easy pet, we thought taking Chamberlain into a friends house for the night might me problematic. So after two "no room at the inn" calls, we lucked out and found a pet-friendly room at a Best Western (which is where I am typing this now.)
We caught some news tonight, and here's the latest: 1,000 acres burned; 2 structures lost; 2 minor injuries to firefighters; the fire near our neighborhood is not officially contained, but officials are hopeful that once the winds die down after midnight, firefighters will begin to take the upper hand. The news reports cautioned viewers that there still is cause for concern... the winds, despite waning, still occasionally gust to 45+ mph, and utility poles that caught fire might topple, potentially putting live wires in contact with dry grasses and igniting another fire.
More updates and pictures later. Now go hug a firefighter.