Waldo Canyon Fire/Bob's Bash Recap
Saturday was supposed to be a "bash" of a good time, but quickly turned into worry, fear and stress for many of us in Woodland Park and Ute Pass that day. Nothing has changed, those feelings still linger. As we prepared for our race, some folks that were helping us were receiving frantic calls from loved ones that live down the pass and wanted to evacuate. Other decided to have a beer and run 20 miles. Here's what the Waldo Canyon Fire day looked like for us.
Sat., June 23rd 2012, 10:00 am- We arrived at Aspen Valley Ranch (just west of Woodland Park on HWY 24) and immediately started setting up for our race, "Bob's Bash". All of the usual goings-on of a race were happening; the timing clock was going up, course markers being laid and cold water set out for our runners at the aid stations. At 12:00, we were prepared and ready to check in our racers. Little did we know what was happening down the hill...
12:30- The caretaker of the ranch came zooming by on a 4-wheeler and stopped at the starting line to tell us that he had spotted smoke in the south-east corner of the ranch, the same direction in which an arsonist had started one only days before. He quickly took off to the highest point of the ranch to get a better look. We glanced into the sky and saw a faint smoke plume over the hill. Not good. We waited for more news. Soon, Bunny was at the race to confirm our worst nightmares; a fire had started near Colorado Springs, in Waldo Canyon.
12:15- Bunny was headed up the pass and caught one of the first photos of the fire.
Dark black smoke can be seen looking northeast down HWY 24. Photo: Robert Mitchell
1:45- It was now getting closer to our 2pm race time and all of our 20ish mile racers were here and ready. We continued to update them on the fire and reassure them that at this point, we would not cancel the race. This was our view:
Photo taken around 1:45pm
2:00- Race Start- The racers were set and ready to go. Since we realized the fire was not near us, we started the race without hesitation and they were off. Smoke continued to rise over the south-east part of the race course. Huge looming plumes of smoke hung above us. More racers started showing up for our 3pm 5K and 9K. All had come from Colorado Springs and traveled up HWY 24 in order to get here. Two of which where from out of state. They all were very worried about how they would get home, should the fire close the pass.
Photo taken around 2:06pm
3:00- An hour into the race, the smoke started to blow north east and settle above the Rampart Range area. At this time, I called my parents who have a cabin just north of the reservoir. My dad was there so I was a bit worried but no evacuations were set for that area during that time. The 5K and 9K were starting at this time however due to the fire, three of our racers headed home just in case.
Photo taken around 3:09pm
3:30- All of the racers were on the course by now and I couldn't take the fact that my mountains were on fire. I was constantly checking Twitter/Facebook to see how my friends in the Ute Pass area were doing. We have a house that we rent in Green Mountain Falls, so we called to check on our tenants. Again, no evacuations were going on at the time except for the hiking area near Waldo and a few near Garden of the Gods, so we were not that worried. I, along with a few others decided to venture up to the highest point on the ranch to get a better view. Tears started rolling down my cheeks as I took shaky photos of the following scenes.
Photo taken around 3:40pm
Waldo Canyon Fire on left, Pikes Peak far right
5:30- Rain clouds (or what seemed to be) started rolling in and delicately mixing with the smoke clouds. We were hopeful that the wind and clouds from the west would bring tons of rain and put the fire out. Not the case.
Photo taken around 5:36pm
A hopeful but disappointing mix of "rain" clouds and smoke clouds.
6:00pm- The sun was starting to set now, and our first runner was nearing the finish line. Everyone was quietly excited, its hard to celebrate when disaster is happening.
The sun sets on the fire's smoke. Photo taken around 6:03pm
And now, we wait. We've struggled through 3,600 acres being burned in 36 hours. 0% containment and over 13,000 folks have been evacuated. We've become the #1 priority for fire containment in the country. Luckily, no structures or lives have been lost. The fire is currently about 9 miles away from our downtown Colorado Springs location and ash and smoke is taking over the city. City parks and open spaces are closing to keep out people in order to reduce risk of starting more fires. It breaks my heart to think that this fire, as well as others around our area, may have been deliberately set. For the sake of all beings out there, take proper precautions regarding fire safety and HELP US FIGHT IT, DON'T LIGHT IT!
To help us and our community, please consider donating money to the Red Cross. You can also find out more info at the following links: