Saturday, March 31, 2012

There will be Stories!

Catwoman and five of her charges arrived Monday night at 11:30 pm, refugees from the Lower North Fork Fire. We've had quite a week, keeping tabs on the TV news more than usual, watching the weather, and monitoring the Jeffco sheriff's blog for updates. Although her home is just on the edge of the evacuation zone, it's in a tight spot with only one way out, so leaving was the prudent option.

Not to mention that it takes time to catch all those cats, especially after catching the first one makes the others wary and downright panicky.

"There will be stories," she said as we talked over glasses of wine until Monday turned into Tuesday, and she had already shared a few from her harrowing evening. What do you take if you have limited time and only one car? What should you add if your friend kindly comes to help, giving you the chance for a second load? How long can you afford to spend packing? Sobering thoughts!

We've been surprised that having so many cats in the house—strangers!— has gone as smoothly as it has. The guests stay quietly in the guest room, and resident felines have barely noticed their presence. They know something's up, but on the whole, it's going great, and we're enjoying spending time with Catwoman.

About Wednesday, Catwoman came up with an addition to our list of seasonal harbingers. "When you hear slurry bombers overhead, it's a sure sign of spring!" In fact, it was this same time last year when we posted about the Indian Gulch fire near Golden.

At first it seemed everyone was surprised by the erratic nature of this fire. Reports went from 200 acres to 3,000 overnight, then jumped to 4,500. By Thursday, the official story had grown somewhat clearer, as we struggled to balance that version against disquieting word-of-mouth reports that were becoming more numerous and more compelling. Even the sad report of fatalities may be a two-sided story. It will be a while before it's all sorted out, no doubt, and, as one evacuated resident said on the news, it's important to be reasonable, and not rush to judgment before the facts are in. Despite hotspots of anger, we've been surprised how many people do seem to be taking a more measured or philosophical attitude. Even some of the 27 families who have lost their homes. Yes, there are things that perhaps should be done, or can be done in the future, but people also seem to realize that "it's the cost of living in a pretty place," as one noted.

Yesterday morning the responders finally announced 45% containment—great progress! That was upgraded to 70% last night, and 90% this morning. (See latest map.) They're keeping 500 homes on alert today though, because of high winds expected, so it seems the cats, at least, will be here a while yet.

The Husband pointed out the plume of smoke visible from the house about 5 p.m. Monday. It hadn't been there when I got home at 3:30, and of course, I never did think of the camera. I have no presence of mind.

Others do: Heart-rending video is available at YouTube: for a good look at the plume; more at time lapse, and Escaping the Fire, raw form, and edited with commentary and interviews.

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