You can’t live anywhere in Colorado — the West, in fact — without the fear of fire. You grow used to sniffing the air like Smokey, worrying at the wind’s direction. In fact, it does little good to know the wind’s direction as it sometimes swirls, changing direction literally in a heartbeat. And even when the wind’s not changing direction, the speed with which it races against the mountains, or over the tops of them, is daunting.
The wind’s enough to pick you up off your feet. Hurricane force without the rain.
Not knowing which way the fire would blow is what I think was behind the decisions to evacuate so many of us who live here along the front range of El Paso and Douglas Counties. With 65 mile an hour winds generated within a fire, it takes seconds, a maximum of minutes, to travel a mile; and, like most homes in the Mountain Shadows, Peregrine, and Rockrimmon neighborhoods we were within 5 miles of the fire’s raging front line.
That translates into having 5 minutes to leave without being burned alive.
I can’t say that would’ve crossed my mind that first day fire was reported in Waldo Canyon. If I’d been at work that day, as I sometimes am — for a psychotherapist and relationship coach like me, scheduling is often easier on weekends — the reverse 911 call would’ve stirred a shivver.
That was the day I would’ve first begun to think, “This can happen to me.”
That it happened at all is beyond my ability to believe. The office has been off-limits since Saturday; it is where a majority of current client files are locked away along with professional books and the stuff of therapy. I’ve gotten emails from concerned clients, one of whom said she watched the flames singe the area right around the office.
Even when I see it I won’t comprehend.