Because seven days ago FIRE erupted in my world and things have not been the same since.

Specifically the West Fork Complex East Zone FIRE.


The white is not a cloud but SMOKE.

How it all began:

On June 5, a lightning strike in the San Juan Forest far on the other side of the Continental Divide from our house started a fire in the high elevations.

No reason for raised concern, forest fires in the summer are a common occurrence in Colorado. We live with the smoke and keep going.

Only the major fires like Waldo Canyon last year and most recently the Black Forest Fire receive much national media attention.

Until last Thursday when the San Juan Forest fire did an unprecedented thing—

It jumped the Continental Divide and ignited beetle infested dead trees in the Rio Grande National Forest.

Burning in the high elevations with so much dead fuel, the San Juan Forest fire officially renamed West Complex Fire spread rapidly, uncontrollably.

Too much wind, too high elevations, and too much dead tree fuel to risk the lives of firefighters busy elsewhere protecting homes and lives. Instead, they watched the fire closely.

Then the fire encroached upon our little town of South Fork and the many, many RV and resort camps along Colorado 160 and the Silver Thread Byway (Colorado 149).  Ashes landed on our decks and in our yards, on our houses and cars, and on us.


That’s the glow from flames taken from our front yard.

Life became scary as residents gathered in the Community Center to get details.

community center2We heard words I’d only heard applied to hurricane evacuations…

our little town of South Fork was under pre-evacuation notice.

My husband and I went home, pulled suitcases, and began loading clothes for a possible temporary stay away from our home.

We gathered all our important papers (already stored in portable boxes according to Bob Mayer’s Green Beret Survival Guide). It’s a super book with lists of what you need to have ready in case of any emergency. Buy your copy here.

All night Friday,  June  21st, we received reverse 911 calls updating us on the status of the evacuation.

At six a.m., the dreaded words came: MANDATORY EVACUATION: be out of our home by 10 a.m. that morning.

Quickly, we loaded our cars with the possessions we wanted to save and began our life at the mercy of the West Complex Fire.

I’ll begin journaling our story as we await word of when (if) we can return to South Fork and our home.

Join me for the journey.