Letter: Crying all the way home seeing destruction of Grizzly Creek Fire from I-70
It is Tuesday, Aug. 25, as I try to write this letter. It isn’t a very good day for me. My emotions are high and I cannot keep the tears from rolling down my cheeks. Yesterday, Monday, started out OK — I-70 was open through the canyon, and the courageous fire crews were making headway with controlling the blaze. Great news! Especially since we were just getting ready to head over Cottonwood Pass to take care of business on the Western slope. But the day didn’t end well. It ended very sadly, because we drove through Glenwood Canyon and saw “up close and personal” the decimation and destruction in one of our most beautiful and treasured scenic and recreational gems.
It didn’t look all that bad that morning as we drove west from Eagle. There are obvious charred areas and huge patches of shrubs, bushes and trees that have been heat scorched but not totally burned, but it didn’t seem too horrific, considering the smoke, how long it had been burning, etc. We were a bit encouraged.
But then, later that day as we drove from the west back toward Eagle, that is when you see the real devastation.
From the No Name tunnel to Bair Ranch one sees the scope of the damage — the burned-out remains of our beloved canyon — from the ridgelines down to the river, up the drainages, on the hillsides and down to the highway. I cried all the way home. I cried as I described it to my neighbors, and now here come the tears again. Then I think about all the precious wildlife — how many creatures suffered and died — more tears! It will not be healed in the remainder of my life, but will be a constant reminder of how things can change with a moment of carelessness.
There hasn’t been an official cause identified yet for the fire as far as I know — that can take awhile — but we know there was no lightning in the area that day. So that leaves one to surmise it must have been human-caused, one way or another. Perhaps, even likely, a cigarette carelessly tossed from a passing vehicle?
So I beg each and every one of us to be extremely careful with anything remotely flammable — everything around us is tinder dry!
Wherever you travel, however you choose to enjoy the mountains, the valleys and the waterways we love so much, be careful.
If you see people acting irresponsibly, politely say something. There are more people visiting our mountains than ever before it seems, from everywhere, and they may not understand or be aware of how easily one spark can ignite a massive wildfire. We can and should help educate the unaware. To paraphrase something from snow skiing, be aware and adventure with care.
Thank you so much to all who fought to save what they could — we are so grateful, and thankful too, that no one died.
Our hills may be “alive with the sound of music” right now, but they are only one small spark away from being dead, with the smell of ashes.
Be careful out there, please, and stress the importance of responsible behavior from all!
Eby Creek Mesa