Photo Blog: High Park Fire

The High Park fire in the mountains west of Colorado has grown to some 40,000 acres when I’m posting this, with zero percent containment. Low humidity, high winds and temperatures have created the perfect situation for this fire to consume anything it would like. The Sheriff at this time still believes the fire started due to lightning. This is mother nature’s doing.

I couldn’t stay at home last night reading or watching a movie–Knowing the fire was spreading, I was restless.

Two stills from time lapse photos I shot two days back. This was when the fire was only at a few thousand acres. (Apologies for not having the time lapses. My computer is shot and I don’t have the programs I need/prefer to edit them. Same goes for color correction in these, but I did my best).

When I got to Fort Collins, the campfire smell hit me almost immediately, and a light fog covered the streetlamps and headlights of passing cars. I drove west toward Horsetooth reservoir.

View of Fort Collins from Horsetooth Reservoir. Covered in a smoky haze. The lights of the city look like small spots of fire themselves. The fire consumes/us/even as we sleep or think or worry of it.

Though I missed the sunset rush, when apparently deputies and police were running onlookers thick as ants from the sides of the road, at eleven, the parking lots were still packed. Irony seemed as thick as the smoke that later clouded the hills and drove off the spectators. Teenagers smoked cigarettes. I realized how many songs were on my driving CDs about fire.

AWOLNATION belts burn it down baby, burn it–burn it down. Tragedy Machine hums so come on tonight let’s burn the city down. Let the streets ignite into a battleground. The rhythm and violence, pleasure and sound, come on come on, lets burn the city down. 

I suppose if God wants to destroy things, we want to watch.

There was a strange feel to it. The fire coming weeks after graduation, after I moved out of my apartment and into my car. When the smoke is as thick as fog it feels almost as if it is erasing the world, in a gentler, dirtier way than a snowstorm.

I realized, watching the fire lapping at the trees from across the water, that the park bench I was sitting on was the same one I’d sat on the summer before with the girl I was breaking up with, this being the spot where she realized that it really was over. The sun was setting on the water back then as the area fell into night. Now it was night and any hint of the water was obscured by the smoke.

There was a reckless feel to the place. Reminiscent of a short story I wrote about a group of college kids watching the world end in a blast of fire. The same way the smell was reminiscent of late summer camping, of the burning smell on the air during Halloween. Cars lined the the road. Young people laughed and waited and shot back and forth along the county road to find a better shot of the destruction.

And if there was laughter. It was nervous.

“The hope for containment is tenuous,” they say on the news.

When I crawl into bed, my lungs itch and when I talk it’s hard to get vowels to sound right. When I wake up I learn the fire has almost doubled in the night. Theres bits of ash on my ipad screen. But the air down south is clear.


5 thoughts on “Photo Blog: High Park Fire

  1. Great images, an interesting account. I probably would have been just as restless.

  2. Corinne M. says:

    There’s nothing as terrifying as seeing the world being “erased”, as you put it. When we had the fires out here, it was an other-worldly feeling, not knowing which way to go. There was even fire between us and the ocean. I hope nature herself can help put out her own flame. Thank you for the photos and your words.

  3. I hate to refer to photos of tragedy as excellent, but I was moved by them. Being in KY we don’t have fires like those. The closest we have are the images we see plastered on the news, from national to local. Saddens me that here in this part of the country it is as real as the latest blockbuster. I just pray for containment. Thanks for your raw account of reality.

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