I err on the side of caution about privacy, so have not revealed a lot about what my friends who lost their home have gone through recently, other than mentioning the dogs and some other details. There is now a website created by their adult kids to help them recover from the loss of their ranch to the High Park Fire.
My friends are Kris and Earl Paige. While moving around the country for Earl's job, from which he recently retired to the ranch, Kris has been extremely active in rescue efforts involving llamas and livestock guardian dogs. She's put a lot of miles on getting animals out of bad situations, and is an avid supporter of the WOLF Sanctuary; she's been spending time during evacuation spinning and knitting items, made from Whisper's and Sigmund's fur, for the silent auction happening tomorrow night at the Waltz for the Wolves. If that wasn't enough, she recently completed the rigorous vet tech program at Front Range Community College.
Their property is Sunflower Ridge Ranch, and it took them many years to put it together. On June 22, the High Park Fire jumped the Poudre River (with more than a spot fire: a blast across the river) and ran 7 miles in 5 hours. That was the event that incinerated the ranch buildings.
This is what the ranch looked like before the fire.
This is what it looked like yesterday.
When we hear that fire evacuations have been lifted, or when another event catches our attention, we tend to think it's all over and everything goes back to normal. It doesn't.
Their llamas are in two different locations, and have had to be moved not only out of the fire area but since then. Their dogs are being temporarily moved across the country, and Kris and Earl are hunting for a place to live while they start over at the ranch.
In some ways, perhaps what grows from the ashes will be better. Sunflower Ridge Ranch was built entirely off the grid, and the solar system, while it worked well enough, was somewhat problematic. I hope the new solar system goes in without those complications. It's a small thing to wish for, but it would be nice. And more little nice things like that would be super.
Meanwhile, the people who have lost their homes are taking one issue and one minute at a time: Are the dogs okay now? Are the llamas okay now? Do we have a place to sleep tonight? Even with abundant friends, these questions rise, and they rise repeatedly for all the people affected.
There are, at latest count, 259 other stories of homes lost to this one fire, the High Park Fire; an even larger number have been lost to the Waldo Canyon Fire (with no total currently listed on Inciweb or the Colorado Springs city site), and more fires burning, including the Flagstaff Fire very close to Boulder, Colorado.
Susan Tweit's article from Audubon, 2001 and still timely, on some of the effects of wildfire on the natural environment, plants and animals.
Notes from Colorado State University Vet Hospital on animals who found refuge there.