|The fire is about a mile away behind that ridge.|
Just so you know, Mishawauka is still there! We drove down the Poudre Canyon a couple weeks ago and saw all the devastation the "High Fire" did. Amazingly, the fire burned down both sides of Mishawauka to the river but the buildings are untouched! Kudos to the firemen. There are about 40 miles of damage to our beautiful canyon but summer homes and most of Poudre Park and Rustic are still there. The damage goes all the way down to the mouth of the canyon. Not a pretty sight. The worst thing we saw was the water in the river. It was a horrible black color from all the mud and silt coming down in the mud slides (some of which have closed the highway at times).
A tribute to entrepreneurship is the fact that the rafting companies are still in business and there were still plenty of rafts going down the black waters! A nice thing we saw were the many thank you signs all down the canyon and around the Fort Collins area. The fire fighters did a monumental job saving so many homes in the canyon! We have not been to Laramie yet so have not seen the damage from the Squirrel Creek fire down around Woods Landing.
My main story for this blog is about the wildfire we "attended" in Lee NV. A couple days after Erin's wedding Ozzie, Jay, Bob and I went for a little drive. We could see a big plume of smoke on the other side of the hill toward Spring Creek so we thought we better check out the school out there. (Ozzie had taken the day off to recover from the wedding). When we got over the hill we realized it was coming from the west maybe 20 or so miles away, out somewhere near where Kirk and Darla live in Lee. Kirk works with Ozzie and they are good friends of ours. I had never been out to their ranch so we decided to go check it all out.
As we got closer we realized that the fire was out in the sage brush but fairly close to Kirk's place. Lee is a tiny town in a beautiful green valley with a river winding through it. It is on the Indian Reservation so the tribe has control over what happens there. We drove up to Kirk's house and Darla and their son were home. Her brother is tribal chief and he was there manning a radio in the house. The smoke was pouring over the nearby ridge and we were told the fire was about a mile away on the other side of the ridge and since the wind was blowing away from town (and toward Spring Creek) these houses were not in danger. Of course the wind direction could change but so far we were OK. Kirk came in on a dirt bike and said they had to drive a bunch of cattle out of the way of the fire and cut the fence to get them out.
|One of the bigger helicopters that came a little later.|
Darla got out the camp chairs and handed out water bottles to everyone and we sat around the lawn and watched the helicopters fly over getting water from the river and taking it over the ridge and dumping it on the fire. I got out my camera and ran around trying to get pictures of them and of the billowing smoke. Darla's brother took me around to get better views and shots. Darla came out with watermelon for all and some neighbors came over too. After an hour or so a fireman came along and told Kirk they might want to gather up their valuables just in case the wind changed. By that time a couple big slurry bombers and a really big helicopter were flying over too. The smoke was still billowing but seemed to be moving further away. We decided to leave and head back toward town.
|This little copter was making round trips about every five minutes the whole time we were there.|
We got a really good view of the big planes flying over the burning area but were happy it was not burning over the ridge. Later that evening we got a call from Kirk saying they had been evacuated because the wind changed and the fire was coming around the end of the ridge. They had put fire retardant all around the house but Kirk decided to stay and see what he could do. The next morning he let us know the town had survived and I think the fire had been contained. He stayed home from work to clean up. I wonder what kind of mess that retardant makes..... We had left for home that morning so I haven't heard how the clean up went.
I did not get any pictures going down the Poudre because they had signs saying not to stop along the road. I think this was because of mudslide danger. It really was pretty depressing anyway, sorry.