On Fire in Colorado

You’ve probably heard about the wildfires in California, but Colorado has been on fire for three weeks. After lots of moisture in July, I discovered fields of lush wildflowers carpeting the mountains while backpacking. Then the humidity dropped. Violent thunderstorms arose and lightning struck the forests. Fires cropped up in the Rocky Mountains. Four wildfires continue to rage.

I took this unedited photo two nights ago.

As of today, August 21, the Pine Gulch fire near Grand Junction has burned 122,500 acres and is 17% contained. It is the second biggest Colorado fire on record.

The Grizzly Creek fire in Glenwood Canyon has scorched 29,000 acres and is 11% contained. That’s where Hanging Lake is located. So far, it has survived.

Why you should hike Hanging Lake in the Glenwood Canyon, Colorado. Waterfalls, lake, and great exercise!

Cameron Peak fire west of Fort Collins has burned 16,461 acres and is 0% contained.

Williams Fork fire near Colorado Springs has burned 9,457 acres and is 3% contained.

I’ve never seen anything like this. The Front Range, including Boulder and Denver, has been choked with smoke. Ash coats our seat cushions and tables outdoors. My weather app has sent out warnings about air quality. Masks are a great filter for harmful particulate matter.

Sunrise in Boulder County today. Doesn’t it look dark for 8:30 in the morning?

177, 418 acres have been turned to cinders in Colorado. Think of the size of our fires:

Manhattan is 14,600 acres.

The city of Boulder is 17, 510 acres.

Denver is 99,150 acres.

Chicago is 149,800 acres.

A thick, hazy, orange sunset over the foothills of Boulder, Colorado. The smoke from forest fires.

I’ve been gaging the thickness of the smoke by the view of the mountains. This morning, it covered the toes of the foothills and it lay in the Boulder Valley. I wondered if another fire had broken out.

Nope.

Smoke is rolling in from the 250,000 acres on fire in California. Damn. This is our worst day by far.

The smoky skies fooled an owl into thinking it was dusk.

He looked at me as if I might be able to shed some light on what was going on. Sorry. I couldn’t help myself.

These photographs were taken mid-afternoon.

Sun obstructed by smoke in Boulder

My curious lampshade cranes its neck to see what the hubbub is all about.

I thought being isolated with the risk of getting COVID was bad enough.

A fiery sunset in Boulder county

I planned to take a bike ride this week, but that is not going to happen. It’s cool this morning. Temps will rise to the 90’s like they have every day for a while now and are supposed to continue through the weekend. There have been thunderstorms with lots of lightning and very little rain.

It might be time for a rain dance. It seemed to work eight years ago.

rain dancing on the deck

Do you live near a wildfire? How is the air quality where you live? Are you getting outdoors at all?

69 thoughts on “On Fire in Colorado

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  1. Thanks for sharing this update…our friends in Napa Valley are packed and ready to evacuate, as they had two three years ago when a fire faced through the hills surrounding Napa Valley…the latest statistic was that 8% of Napa Valley was on fire…sobering…

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  2. Thanks for the update, Susie. I had no idea the smoke from California can get so far east. We have smoke fog here from California, it rolls over the ridges on the west side of the valley. Yuk. I hope the fires are contained soon, God bless those who are battling these fires!

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  3. Goodness. You need to stay inside. That smoke is dangerous. We don’t have smoke her but had a high ozone warning yesterday. Since I’m an asthmatic I was forced to stay inside. I hope the fires stop soon.

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    1. Me too! I thought by today, they would have a handle on the fires but they’re so hard to control in the mountains. Thunderstorms have rolled through with very little rain and lots of wind, which doesn’t help either.
      Yesterday, I took a walk with a friend and we both wore masks! It’s so much worse today. I’m starting to rain dance….

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Between a global pandemic and mother nature 2020 continues to test all of us. There are (2) tropical disturbances and possibly a 3rd for the you know what you should not name season here in Florida. Then you have the wildfires out west. So sorry to hear you are dealing with horrible smoky conditions. Then the Derechos in the Midwest that cause damage with the winds and flooding with the rains. Here’s to strength and perseverance!!! Continuing to send prayers, healing vibes, positive thoughts . . . Be Safe and Take Care 🙂

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    1. Thank you, Renee! It’s been one thing after another this year. The ice shelf the size of Manhattan fell into the ocean and record temps are happening all over the place. Seasonal wildfires are the norm in the west but nothing like this! I’ll be glad when the snow flies! ❄️ Have a great weekend! 😎

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  5. Right now we’re getting tons of rain. Wish I could send you some. I know how scary it can be and how awful the air tastes when there are fires raging all around. I feel awful for the poor little animals that get burned up in these fires. Terrible thing. I hope you get some rain soon and some relief on those fires.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. This is one of the reasons we moved away from California. We lived in the mountains and every single summer we had raging wildfires. It was so stressful. The heat, the smoke, the clogged skies, the gray days. It was awful. I do not miss that at all. Two days ago my aunt and uncle and one of my cousins had to evacuate their homes. I haven’t heard back to know if they’ve been allowed back yet.

    Stay safe up there in the high country.

    Patricia Rickrode
    w/a Jansen Schmidt

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    1. Oh, no! What a nightmare. So far there aren’t any fires near Breck, ( I say that but haven’t looked since this morning) and we’re across the Boulder Valley from the mountains in Niwot. My concern is all the dead brush on my neighbor’s property- he’s illegally renting it as an Airbnb. One tossed cigarette from the highway would ignite the dead grasses in the open space and POOF!

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  7. More the opposite here in Wales. We’ve had lots of rain and flash flooding. Yesterday, we had unseasonal gale force winds, and we can look forward to lots more wind and rain next week too. I only wish we could send some of the rain to you.
    Take care of yourselves, and stay safe.

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  8. We were out there several years ago when this happened before. I remember the governor getting flak for exclaiming “my state is on fire!” I remember seeing fires on both sides of I-70 as we drove. Sounds like this is just as bad. Thinking of you.

    P.S. I thought that owl was decorative until I realize he turned his head in the next photo. Beautiful specimen.

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    1. That must have been intense!! I would step on the gas if there were fires on both sides of the road while I was driving. Scary!

      We have a fire season every year since the state is semi-arid and dries out in July and August. We are supposed to have highs in the mid-80s next week which will really help. It will snow, eventually!!

      Owls are so cool. They aren’t too afraid of people, but I keep my distance. I had to get his attention to get the shot!

      Liked by 1 person

        1. Wow! We should do a trade for a week. Herons and cranes stop by once in a while. I would love it if the huge black and white pelicans flew into the pond. A few have made the nearby reservoir their summer home!

          Liked by 1 person

  9. I hadn’t heard about the Colorado fires. That’s sad to hear.
    Do that dance, if nothing else, it lifts the mood.
    I haven’t been near a wild fire before, but the smoke one from Amazon last year reached all the way to Sao Paulo – my family lives in Rio de Janeiro.

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    1. That is crazy! I saw a smoke map today that showed how the smoke is swirling in an enormous circle. It is much worse today. The short times I’ve been outside, I’ve gotten a sore throat!!
      I’ll keep dancing, Jina! Thanks for stopping by!

      Liked by 1 person

  10. Was pretty rainy this week in the mid-Atlantic region. Would gladly send some of it west. Hate to see these fires getting out of control. Hope that changes soon. Great pics, Susie, as always!

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    1. Thanks, Paul! great to see you.

      You are getting huge storms and we are in a drought! I hope that changes next week when the temperatures are predicted to go down into the 80’s. We might even get a thunderstorm. I’ll keep dancing…

      Liked by 1 person

  11. Do that rain dance. Maybe the owl (and what an owl!) is hoping to shelter in your yard. All those feeing animals.
    We’ve been hearing all week about how bad the smoke is in Denver. Sometimes we get smoke from prairie fires ( controlled/planned and uncontrolled unexpected ones)
    Today here, it’s an unhealthy air ozone alert.
    Wish we could sent your some rain – two storms headed into the gulf (first dual threat since 1959) and we’ll probably be right between both and get whacked by both. But hey, we’ve got chips and beer.
    Stay alert up there.(Pictures are beautiful – but dangerous)

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    1. I’m glad you’re stocked up and ready to hunker down. That sounds scary, Phil. We have an unhealthy air alert today again. It’s much worse. I should have biked on Wednesday when I thought it was bad. It was nothing like the thick smoke now! Thanks so much!

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you! Reports coming from California and the burning of redwoods are comparing those fires to Australia’s. So scary. It’s very smoky here in Colorado again today. When will it end? I’m looking forward to snow!!!

      Liked by 1 person

  12. Hope all is OK for you over there and the fires are brought under control. Wildfires are not good! We had very similar smoke effects here in NZ, back in January, from the Australian wildfires – great clouds of it blown across the Tasman and reducing the Sun to an orange glow. No ash though, at least where I was.

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  13. Wow! That is scary, Susie. Also it is horrific to think of all the damage to that beauty. We are not near any wildfires but we have children & grandchildren that live in Kelowna, BC and they can get hit pretty hard when the fires start. They have been evacuated on several occasions. We are always holding our breath to hear that they are safe. I hope you have stayed safe and clear of the fire areas.

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  14. Those fires sound horrific Susie, I can’t imagine how much land has been devastated by that. It’ll take years to recover won’t it? Tragic. Hopefully your rain dance will work again and there will be an end to the tragedy soon. Stay safe.

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    1. Me too! It rained a little bit yesterday and today. Two of the bigger fires are over40% contained. Yay! The temperatures are supposed to go down by Friday. That should help. The smoke isn’t as bad, so I hope to take a bike ride tomorrow.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, Rebecca! It has rained a little and two of the fires are more than 50% contained. Yay! Two others are still out of control but smaller- 34,000 acres. I was able to ride my bike today without risking lung damage. 😎

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you! It’s much clearer now. The two largest are over 70% contained while the two smaller fires are still at 0%. It’s much cooler and there’s a prediction of snow in the mountains! Yay!
      Thanks for stopping by, Eboney!

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