You probably remember Colorado Governor Bill Owens’ famous pronouncement that “All of Colorado is burning.” That really did seem to be true during the summer of 2002.
I was digging through my pre-electronic photo albums and came across these photos from early summer 2002. We were heading back to Denver from Mesa Verde so I think this must have been somewhere on Colorado Route 145 or possibly 550, in the San Juan Mountains. I don’t think this was the large Hayman fire closer to Denver. I am not sure which fire it was since unfortunately there were so many that summer. There was an unbelievable amount of destroyed homes, dead livestock and wild animals, and charred land.
You can’t get an idea of the size of the fire until you look closely at the first photograph, near the middle and slightly to the right, and see an itty bitty tiny helicopter with an even smaller bucket underneath for dumping water on the fire. It looked like an impossible task but the news reporters said that firefighters did eventually bring the fire under control. I applaud their bravery and tenacity.
We were lucky that the smoke was blowing to the east so we could pull over and watch the firefighters battle the blaze for a while. It was truly frightening and awe-inspiring to see how vast an area the fires covered and how fast they could move.