Well, yesterday was “B” day in the blogging from A to Z challenge. I’m writing a bit erratically, enjoying my new found retirement and giving myself permission to be less reliable than usual.

Today, I’m writing about burned. Particularly, the Marshall Fire, which roared through my area just over 3 months ago, on December 30, 2021. I’ve written about it twice before, and those posts are available here and here should you be interested. Once the snow melted out, it became obvious that ground and trees were burned about a block away. Two blocks out, homes were destroyed. The fire, propelled by hurricane force winds came entirely too close. And as bad as it was, destroying more than a thousand homes and damaging many more, it could have been worse. The whole town could have burned. Had this happened in the middle of the night, the numbers of killed and injured (2 deaths, a few minor injuries) would likely have been much higher.

I’m somewhat used to the altered landscape now. I often walk past certain burned areas, seeing scorched trees, the remains of houses and neighborhoods. Some areas are without access, others I see. It’s very different. There’s a poignancy to some of the scenes. Holiday lights and decorations hanging in the yard of a charred house. In one yard a smoky buddha sits placidly beneath a scorched tree. As spring is starting, the early bulbs bloom among the ash. And the burned areas of open space are greening up, more green and earlier than usual. The natural worlds drive towards renewal is showing.

It’s challenging for the people. I’m among the fortunate, with no major damage, no restoration/smoke mitigation required. Many who still have homes are contending with these challenges, and insurances companies and vendors, some of whom are showing up very well, and others who seem to be taking advantage of the crisis and “easy money”. And for those who have lost their homes, the challenges are an order of magnitude or two greater, and the length of the process much longer.

Just last weekend, we all were acutely reminded of Marshall Fires impact on our lives when another wildfire happened nearby, a little north and west of where the Marshall Fire started, it was called the NCAR fire. Many homes in southwest Boulder evacuated, but with the good fortune of much lighter winds and blowing away from town, as well as well-prepared lands and firefighters, no structures were lost, no injuries sustained and the fire is now largely out. Everyone could return to their homes within a day. But those of us affected by the Marshall Fire were pretty shaken, with dread, trauma reactions, anger, fear and disbelief, we all have some reactions. It may not be PTSD, I don’t think its a disorder, but it certainly is a trauma reaction. The wounds are still deep and easily reactivated.

Rebuilding is beginning, debris is being cleared, and it will be a while before we are settled again.

19 thoughts on “Burned

  1. It always amazes me how quickly nature begins the regeneration process after a major catastrophic fire. I’m glad your losses were minimal, though the loss of security is perhaps greater than the loss of more material things. Hopefully that will come back as the neighbors begin to return. Do keep writing — it’s good for the rest of us to be aware of the trauma of brushfires!

    Liked by 2 people

  2. That third photo looks so weird, Steph. It all sounds too much to me, especially in light of the other wild fire. In Australia, many people have been rendered homeless (again) due to record breaking floods. Even if they have insurance, skyrocketing building costs and labour shortages have pushed people to the edge. I imagine the same forces are at play in your town. Take care, Steph, and best wishes for the continuing recovery of your community.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes, quite the odd contrast in the that photo, Tracy. Sun / shade, burned/unburned. Its an odd/weird experience at this time. And you are exactly right on the the underinsured, labour and supply shortages adding to the challenge.

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  3. Talk about close calls! I’m glad you survived and I’m also glad the land is coming back. Set as we are in the middle of a woods, every drought is terrifying. One little match, one spark. Lucky that there are no electrical wires in our woods. All of them run entirely down the roads — at least around this area. I hope things go well and your world recovers.

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  4. I’m so glad you were able to remain safe through both fires. The unpredictability of the weather leaves everyone vulnerable these days, as we move into spring and summer. Nature is resilient and hopefully with time the people will be too.

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  5. Oh Steph — I don’t think you will ever “get over” it, though, in my experience, it retreats further into the distance as time passes. The randomness and the destructiveness are pretty terrifying as is the knowledge that it can happen again. BUT I think the way nature comes back is the big lesson for us. In the case of “my” fire the magic was the fireweed which only comes up after fires and has beautiful purple/lavender flowers. It’s always there, waiting, as are redwood trees and bulb plants and roses. Fireweed is a very inspiring plant. The entire burned west side of Cuyamaca Peak was covered in it the spring after “my” fire. It made a magical hike and a lasting lesson, for me. So…


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      1. yes, getting over may indeed be a misnomer, Martha. But hopefully with time, the reactivity and trigger happy nature of my/our survival brain will lessen to a level of ordinariness. Like many experiences, we are permanently changed and have a more in depth understanding due to direct experience vs. observing from a distance.

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  6. I read in detail about Marshall fire after reading ur blog. First of all pandemic and then having it on top of that is so upsetting. Hope all who suffered losses recover soon.

    Dropping by from a to z

    Liked by 1 person

    1. thanks for reading and commenting. I look forward to seeing what you’ve written as well. Recovery is a process, as we are all reminded in these challenging times.


  7. That is really scary. I am so glad that you are safe. Nature starts recovery but our minds take time to get over the horror of the fire. Bes wishes! Stopping by via the AtoZ master list.

    Liked by 1 person

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