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You may have heard this past month about the wildfires that burned out of control in various parts of Colorado. Unfortunately, my parent’s land in Filing 12 of the Glacier View development was one of the casualties of the fire.  My parents had intended to build their house on the land, however life and circumstances (and their kids worrying about its remoteness) prompted them to buy a house in the more developed area of Estes Park.

It was eerily quiet…no sound of wind moving through the pine needles, no insects buzzing, no birds chirping, no small animals rustling in the underbrush…just silence.  It was disquieting, as I could imagine the same kind of scene in an apocalypse.

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The fire went through the whole Filing 12 development in 20 minutes, charring the outside bark of the younger trees, igniting all of the older trees, and burning 90% of the homes built there.

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Due to the intensity of the fire and remote location, the firefighters were unable to save any of the houses that caught fire and were left to burn down to the foundation.  The house pictured below is directly below where my parents intended to build their house

The High Park fire burned 87,284 acres before being contained, the quality of the picture below may not show it, but the hills are charred here and beyond for miles.

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Sadly, a burned-but-still-alive bear was a few 100 yards away from the above vista.  A firefighter was on the scene to watch over the burned bear until the Department of Wildlife came to assess his health and situation.  He said it seemed disoriented and was afraid of the firefighters who put a bucket of water out on the road.  Hopefully the wildlife officials were able to patch the bear up and relocate him to an area not affected by the fires.

My thoughts and prayers are with those who lost their lives and homes and those affected by the fires, and many thanks to the thousands of firefighters who fought to contain the Colorado wildfires.

In what may be a silver lining to this tragedy, the plight of the temporary firefighter rose to national attention.  Temporary firefighters, who make up half of the wildland firefighters staff and are not be covered by federal health insurance (because they are considered seasonal employees), will likely now receive federal health benefits.  While worker’s compensation covers any injury on the job, it doesn’t cover any offseason health problems the firefighter may experience.  You can’t tell me working hours, days, weeks, months in the heat and near smoke won’t have lasting effects on these firefighters.  It’s only right to allow them to receive health care when they fight to save our national forests and people’s homes.

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