Saturday, January 10, 2009
Boulder Olde Stage Road fire
Posted 01:07 PM, January 10 2009
|Olde Stage Fire
About a year ago we moved back from Winter Park to Boulder. We decided on a house with a mountain feel yet not too far from Boulder. We decided on an old house on Olde Stage road. Olde Stage road is famous among triathletes because it is the lung burning hill that is part of the Boulder Peak Triathlon. Back in the day I used to do intervals up it. Now I try to avoid it. Many times I just drive down to ride.
Olde Stage road is about a 3 mile climb from town and near the top there is this one opening that we call the notch. The notch is a prime location to live on Olde Stage because you get views of the plains and depending on where you are you can also see Denver. On clear days you can see very far and see Pikes Peak. A very nice spot indeed. But as many know with beauty comes danger.
One danger up here is the mountain lion. We have literally about a hundred deer. They are everywhere. I think some people up here like to feed them. So with deer comes the mountain lion. You can not let little ones wander alone. I have not seen any but you never see the lion. He sees you.
The other danger is fire. Over the years there have been a few fires. I remember one about 9 years ago that I actually watched from town. Not knowing I would live here years later. Another was the year before I moved to Boulder. That one is remembered by the old timers vividly. It was started by a moron that lit his mattress in an accident. So he decided to take the mattress outside and started a huge fire that spread all over the hill. I think some houses were lost to that fire but ours has survived since it was built in the 1950’s so the fire danger is real but not that bad.
Wednesday January the 7th 2009 was a very windy day. At first we though it was just another windy day in Boulder. We have had some really tough windy days lately with gust around 80 miles per hour and near 100 in other areas near Denver.
But this wind was different as it started peeling off our roof. That had never happened. The house shook quite a bit and scared my family a little. I had taken my son to school and my wife took our daughter to soccer. Then the phone rang. It was my wife telling me that there is a fire on Olde Stage Road. Where? I do not see a thing. Ok stay vigilant as I can see some smoke she says. I went outside and cold not smell anything nor see any fire.
At this time a service man came to fix our washer. He started doing his work and my wife calls again saying the police blocked old stage road and are limiting traffic. Really? I still can not see a thing. The service man says someone is bringing a part for him to finish the job. I said I doubt it. They will not let him or anyone up the road. So he says he will come back tomorrow but I need to pay now for the whole job or pay for parts only and labor later. I told him, well I pay for parts now. If the house burns there will not be need for labor. This is when the first reverse 911 call came telling us that there was a fire and also gave addresses were the evacuation was mandatory. Ours was not.
At this point I got on my car and drove all of Olde Stage Road. There was no fire on Olde Stage but it was over the hill and I could see the smoke. Then I noticed it was moving south to the hill exactly across the street from my house. By the time I drove back to the house I could now see the smoke rising over the hill. This is when my wife showed up with the kids to help pack. They grabbed all essentials and left but not before the second reverse 911 call that told us the evacuation was mandatory for all of Olde Stage Road.
I decided to stay and pack our trailer with more things. Bikes, shoes, medicines and I went through every room looking for things we could not replace. Now I was packed and ready to go. In between all of this I spoke with the neighbors and managed the first couple of videos here. Later as I was driving down to town I did the other videos that are after the sun went down. The power in the house was out and my cell phone was out. I had to tell the neighbor to call my wife and tell her all was ok.
Before I left I saw a caravan of fire trucks drive up and each stopped at a different house and backed down each driveway. They had one fire truck at each house. I asked one crew if hey thought the fire was coming up here. "That is why we are here sir" was the reply. Ok then I thought. It sure did not look to me like it was coming. But they are the experts.
As you can see from the videos my fear was that the fire was going to come up right up the hill on the notch. Before I left it seemed that the fire cross the notch and kept going south. I felt somewhat better. But when I drove down to town the fire was threatening the city. There are about 2 miles from the notch to the first neighborhood in town. This is called Dakota Ridge and there are about 600 homes is a tight neighborhood. The fire got there but again the firefighters did a back burn and it worked like a charm. They really know what they are doing.
In my last video you can see what ended up happening from the view of the notch a day later. We were not allowed up to our house for about a day and a half. The main reason was not so much the danger but with so much fire equipment and trucks and a tight road. We will just get in the way of the fire department doin its job.
Hope the videos give you a good feel for what happened up here. The fire was bad in the mountains but the one in the plains which you can see in some of the videos was brutal. We drove the highway down there and both sides of the highway were all ash. It was like driving in the Kona lava fields. The top picture on this post is a picture of a barn on fire. That was were one of the fires started. Two transfromers fell to the ground at two different locations and sparked the fires. One in the plains and one on the other side of our hill. Then the fires joined together. Thanks to Bouder’s finest. They did an incredible job.
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