My scary urban grassland fire adventure: Colorado’s Marshall Fire

I usually plan my weeks in winter based on the weather forecast. Last Wednesday the 29th was supposed to be a cold day in the upper 20s to low 30ths. But the next day called for warmer temps but with high wind warnings. I decided to run in the colder temps on the 29th. I like running in the cold but windy weather can be a bitch. Little did I know.

The run went well and I felt refreshed. I slept well that night and I felt energetic the next day. I first stopped by to feed the dog I was pet-sitting and then I did a Walmart run and got stocked up on groceries. On my way over I pulled over and took a pic because the skies were so beautiful.

Taken from the Walmart parking lot in Broomfield. Views like this are why we live here.
December 30th started out as a beautiful, albeit windy, day

After getting home and putting away the groceries, I went up to my husband’s office to talk with him about lunch plans. We decided to order some food from a local Vietnamese restaurant. Then I looked out the office window and noticed a huge plume of smoke to the NW. The smoke was darker than a typical brushfire, indicating that it was already burning structures. We could tell it was in the Marshall Road area, probably about 5 miles away as the crow flies (hence its given name – the Marshall Fire.) Before picking up the food I drove to a local viewpoint and took some pics. When I picked the food, I showed the owner whom I know very well some video. Like me, he agreed it was concerning but we didn’t think too much about it just yet. We’d see.  I got home at about 12:30. Shortly thereafter I got a reverse 911 call and a message at 12:50. This was an evacuation warning call. My son and I both packed and I drove down to retrieve my friend’s dog. People were already leaving the neighborhood and the streets were jammed.

Smoke over Rock Creek (south of Coalton) subdivision in Superior My first warning of the fire of impending doom (about 11:45)
looking over Old Town Superior. Much of this would burn (about noon)
Headed north on McCaslin toward Old Town/Downtown Superior. (about noon)
Cars starting to back up as people rush to leave around 1 pm

My husband didn’t think we needed to leave. Yes, the streets were a mess, but still I was nervous. Finally, while he was watching the live stream, he could see that it was about 1.5 miles away from burning through a local greenspace park just across a main street in our community. And then I saw streams of cops headed up to our street. I yelled at him it was time to go. My son and I packed up the dogs and the cat, suitcases, my emergency grab bag (important papers), and sleeping bags. My husband drove his own car. Good news was that when we left around 4:15 the streets were clear. Many people were watching from above our house on Hwy. 128. As I drove I could see the fire in the early evening sky. It looked scary and horrible.

My son in Denver had just recently moved to a large loft apartment with 2000 square feet. The only thing I forgot to bring was the dog bed for my pug and my Melatonin.  We all went to bed at 10 after watching the live streaming news all evening. It appeared that our house was going to be safe but winds can change on a dime. They had died down but neighborhoods were still burning. I barely slept a wink that night.

Pet party during evac
eerie image of our town burning

We got the all clear the next afternoon. I had actually sent my husband home earlier as he has a sports car and it was starting to snow. My friend had already picked up her dog so it was just the pug and the cat and my son in the car. Not quite so crazy.

We had no gas for the next day, but we were lucky to be the first in the neighborhood to get ours turned on since they needed to do the gas line purge for the neighborhood from our house. The next problem was the internet. We couldn’t watch TV but our phones were working well at the time. But as more people returned, our speeds and coverage got worse and worse. Finally the internet came back on on Monday night. I think people were dancing in the streets (seriously, this was worse than a 50 degree house.)

Our neighborhood in Superior was lucky. But others were not. Sagamore, Old Town, and Rock Creek north of Coalton all suffered damages. Sagamore was wiped out (over 300 houses). Old Town was next with over 200 houses, both old and new. The neighboring town of Louisville suffered heavy damages as well. Luckily the hospital, Home Depot, Lowes, and schools were saved. Currently, Costco, Target, and Whole Foods are closed. Target suffered the worst damage. Probably about 2 dozen small business were damaged or destroyed. Total house count is around 1000. Plus many houses suffered horrendous smoke damage.

I have included just a few pictures from the day after the fire. With snow covering most of the burn areas still, it’s difficult to take many pics. Plus, out of respect, I have decided to only take general panoramic shots of the area and not individual houses.

The same parking lot from which I took pictures the day before. It burned up and over this hill.
I’m not sure why this car was left here but honestly I think they should keep it as historical relic of the fire.
Courtesy of Cactus Wax Studio adjacent to Target in Superior.

I’m officially “boosted” (Moderna #3)

A few weeks back I was distressed to hear that my state of Colorado was about at #4 in terms of Covid hospitalization rates in the US. I was quite surprised as roughly 73% of the population (12 and older) is vaccinated. But right now many hospitals are at or near capacity and have to turn away patients. On the same newscast I also heard that our state’s chief medical officer told vaccine providers that they could give boosters to anyone, no matter what the federal guidelines were (although it appears those guidelines may change soon).

I quickly checked around and found that that I was able to get an appointment at Walmart. Yes, I had to fib a little bit on the online appointment scheduler stating that I did indeed meet the qualification criteria, but this has always been a problem with the pharmacies. During the initial rollout people qualified but the pharmacies always lagged in updating their systems. Anyhow, when I was at Walmart, several people came in for walk in appointments. So I don’t feel bad.

Although I preferred the ease and comfort of the drive-thru clinic I had gone to for my first two vaccines, I found that Walmart was quite efficient and better set up than Walgreens or Safeway.

As a side note, I felt like I was in another country. In Boulder County we have a mask mandate but the Walmart I went to is in Adams County with no mask mandate. I wore my mask during the whole process but none of the pharmacy staff did. Oh well, I’m a proud Boulderite and we do stand out from the rest of the state.

I was prepared to battle the side effects. Sore arm? Yes, but not as bad as my flu shot. Tiredness? Yes, I fell asleep watching the Costa Rica – Honduras soccer match. (Costa Rica won!) The next day was horrible. Fever and chills and a headache. The good news was that by bedtime I was fine.

I feel good about getting my booster and doing my part, which also means continuing to wear a mask. I have a big trip planned for February to Costa Rica and I’m not letting Covid get in my way. In the meantime, I wish the holdouts, like my hair stylist, would get their vaccines.