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Robert Weller

Robert Weller

Posted: September 13, 2010 04:00 PM

Second only to its love for the beauty of its surroundings is Boulder, Colorado's love for challenging recreational sports. These things have often resulted in the city being placed on the list of the best American places to live.

Last week a disastrous wildfire not only destroyed at least 169 homes in the canyons to the west, a paradise for those who lived in them, but it also forced the closure of popular hiking trails. No serious injuries were reported.

Many residents were being allowed to return home even though the fire was still not contained, but three weekend sports events, Cycle for Life, the Boulder Sunset Triathlon and Buffalo Bicycle Classic, had to be rescheduled.

The wildfire was pitifully small by Colorado standards, less than 7,000 acres destroyed, but the reaction was huge. People from throughout the region donated so much food that fire fighter teams couldn't handle it. They were already being fed by a caterer so they gave the food to evacuated families and other needy people.

One evening even some residents of the city had been warned to be prepared to flee because of the winds that can roar down from where the mountains meet the plains. A famous hurricane forecaster who lives 55 miles to the north once said he would never dare to predict Colorado Front Range weather. Often when fires destroy ridge-line or canyon homes the reaction is to blame the people who built in the red zone. In the recent past, many had ignored the threat of having trees close to their homes because it was the trees that brought them there.

Wildfire officials, and insurers, constantly warned people to make their homes defensible -- cut trees down close to their dwellings. In this case, many had done everything possible. But nothing could have stopped this Labor Day fire about 30 miles northwest of Denver that may have started when a car hit a propane tank on a windy day. The beautiful sunset that is fairly common in Denver was red with fire dust.

 
 
 

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