Colorado Springs Fires Brings Community Together

The wildfires that burned in Colorado last year made headlines, specifically the one in Colorado Springs. I live in Colorado Springs and remember the devastation the fire brought to our city. That fire was referred to as “Waldo Canyon” since that was the origin of the fire before it jumped the ridge and burned 346 homes.

Colorado is home to many wildfires in the summer – comes with little moisture, heat, and lots of tall trees. The media claimed Waldo Canyon was the most destructive fire in Colorado’s history.  Not a strong slogan to put on a travel brochure.

Less than one year later, on June 11th, 2013, wildfires impacted Colorado Springs once again. The Black Forest fire took with it even more homes. As of this writing, 502 homes and two people became casualties of this fire. Devastation once again impacted our city. And now, the Black Forest fire is dubbed the most destructive fire in Colorado history.

In two years, close to 850 homes were scorched by fast-moving fires, four people lost their lives, and millions of dollars were spent. The burn scar from the Waldo Canyon fire is still a threat due to flash floods. Black Forest lost close to 15,000 acres of its coniferous habitation. Businesses and schools were lost.

The Good News…

Despite the double tragedies, what both fires brought to Colorado Springs was community. We rose above it last year and stood strong this year, too. Both last year and this year, I was truly impressed with the way the city came together to provide food, shelter, and support to all those who needed it. The abundance of donated supplies for the firefighters was heartwarming.

When the Waldo Canyon fire jumped into the Mountain Shadows neighborhood, the news streamed 24 hours live coverage of pure heartache, displaying houses disintegrating in flames. It was hard not to feel a lump in the pit of your stomach as you realized how many people’s lives would be changed.

Somehow, we pulled together. And we did it again this year even as last year’s scars were still healing.

Colorado Springs residents displayed a powerful sense of community. It was overwhelming. Watching the people in the streets cheering on the firefighters was humbling. Goosebumps and tears rose up and touched my heart while simultaneously being a witness to such horrible tragedies. Bittersweet.

Lines of cars volunteered to donate food to those who had to evacuate. People were taking in animals that needed a safe place to stay. Hugs were freely given without asking. Thank you signs for the firefighters were posted all over Colorado Springs and the surrounding areas. For a city with over a half million people, I felt we all had one thing in common those few intense days: compassion.

Sometimes, tragedies bring people close together. Suffering produces a raw sense of the value of life. That is what existed in Colorado Springs in June of 2012 and 2013.

And while I appreciate and admire the compassion and love that exuded in this city these two summers, I truly hope next year, we can come together for a less tragic reason. And not another wildfire.

Colorado Springs Fires

Colorado Springs Fires

Click here to see a detailed map of Black Forest Fire.

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