EAGLE COUNTY - Like many of us, Heather Christie has been watching news reports about Colorado's wildfires with a sense of helplessness. But when those fires affected her family and friends, she knew she had to do something.
Christie, the Student Support Services director at Colorado Mountain College's Edwards campus, is taking a truckload - and, perhaps, pulling a trailer-load - of supplies for the human and animal victims of the Waldo Canyon Fire. That fire has forced the evacuation of tens of thousands of people, including two evacuations of the entire town of Woodland Park. While no fatalies have been reported, the fire has exacted a massive toll in property damage.
That damage may extend to the home Christie's father and stepmother live in.
"We aren't sure, but my brother told me their neighborhood is pretty much gone," Christie said.
At first, Christie was trying to put together a load of supplies for people, but she soon learned how many horses, dogs and cats have been evacuated. Our animals have needs, too, something Christie's well aware of as a volunteer for Mountain Valley Horse Rescue.
"As of now there are 200 or more horses that have been evacuated," she said. And those horses need hay, a commodity in short supply in the drought-parched summer.
So Christie is taking animal food and human supplies to Colorado Springs Thursday. She'll load up the truck in Edwards about 10 a.m., then stop at the Colorado Mountain College offices in Breckenridge and Dillon along the way.
The folks at Destination Services are also gathering supplies at the company's offices in Eagle-Vail and in Denver.
Raylene Duman at DSC's Eagle-Vail office said the company has a couple of Front Range-based employees who have been evacuated, so there's a personal angle to the help that group wants to provide.
And the needs are tremendous. Christie said her father and stepmother are safe, and staying with relatives in Pueblo. Still, it's hard to grapple with the reality of the loss of things we've accumulated over the years.
"My brother's an artist and lives in Woodland Park," she said. "He didn't have a chance to grab much when he was evacuated. He's an artist - that's his heart and soul - and all of that was left behind. It's little things like that that are hard to deal with."
(This story will be updated)