Being the middle of winter, wildfires are typically furthest from the minds of those living in the West. However, just after noon on Jan. 7, a power pole was brought down by winds gusting in excess of 65 mph in Boulder, Colo., and sparks ignited flames that quickly exploded into a wildfire. By the time the fire was announced as contained on Jan. 8 at 8 p.m., it had burned through more than 3,000 acres and destroyed one home. The fire consumed an area north from Lee Hill Road, along and east of Olde Stage Road, south of Left Hand Canyon, and along both sides of US 36 between Boulder and Lyons.
Geoff O'Keeffe, vice president of operations for American Recreation Products and his wife, Sandy Sincek (formerly of Lowe Alpine), were put on evacuation alert and "slept with their boots on and cars loaded," SNEWS® was told.
GoLite co-owners, Kim and Demetri Coupounas, were among 11,000 given the mandatory evacuation order.
"Wednesday night was one of the more interesting evenings we can remember! In short, there was blessedly nothing that was damaged other than our nerves and the fact that we turned the house a bit upside down gathering all of our most important documents and possessions and rapidly shoving them into the Subie and Miata," Kim Coupounas told us.
"I learned a lot from the experience about: a) what 'things' are important to us (not much! -- basically some photo negatives and the requisite insurance files); and b) how it would help to have those few things we do value in a special place that we can grab quickly and easily," said Coupounas. "It is so ironic to have finally moved to the place of our dreams -- a warm cozy home right on the trails in Boulder -- only to have that very home very nearly burned down in a wildfire."
Coupounas added, "It was sobering and yet somehow exciting to have been so close to nature's fury. Emotionally, it reminded me a lot of how we felt going through the Salt Lake tornado in '99...scared yes, grateful that there was as little damage as there was, and simply in awe of the raw power of nature to create and destroy. We also learned that firefighters are absolute heroes. The entire hillside, all the way several miles north of our house to the very edge of Lee Hill Road right outside our door was burned to a crisp except the houses! The firefighters worked heroically and enabled the fire to consume all it could, while keeping it away from the homes (except for one house and barn farther north). The fire literally came right up to the fence line 15 to 20 feet from the houses in our neighborhood." -- See photos to right.
"It reminds us that living right next to wilderness has both wonderful advantages and inevitable risks. We wouldn't trade living here for anything (well, ok, maybe a villa in Tuscany), but we're now a lot more sober about what it means to live in close proximity to wild lands."