It’s been quite a month for us and our neighbors here in our favorite place in the Rocky Mountains: Basalt, Colorado.
In the early evening of July 3, 2018 a wildfire ignited on the outskirts of our town and grew rapidly into the mountains. Locally-based firefighting efforts were intense, and federal wildland fire crews arrived to assist, but winds shifted unexpectedly late on the 4th of July, and suddenly the fire threatened hundreds of homes and prompted mandatory evacuations for many neighborhoods, including those of several of our team members here at Two Leaves. Instead of gathering at fireworks displays (which, incidentally, were canceled due to strict fire restrictions during this very dry summer), our neighbors found themselves gathering in the parking lot of Whole Foods at 11 p.m., staring across the valley floor as flames crested a nearby ridge and tore down the hillside toward our homes and businesses. Ultimately three families lost their homes that night, and our community has rallied around them with assistance and support.
As of July 30, 2018, the Lake Christine fire had burned 12,588 acres and was 82 percent contained. The last of the evacuation orders were lifted, but helicopters continued to whirl overhead, refilling their tanks from reservoirs and lakes and heading back to the wilderness to extinguish flames. Our valley is hazy with smoke, and the mountains nearest our office are streaked with black burn marks, green where untouched vegetation remains, and red where a thick slurry of fire retardant was dropped.
It was all a reality check when it comes to our vulnerabilities living in the mountains during these dry conditions, and yet the overriding emotion we have is gratitude. The men and women who worked (and continue to work) to create a fire line in such steep, rocky and densely wooded conditions are not only our heroes, but have become an everyday inspiration as we see them returning from their shifts, their faces smeared with soot. Our community came together in large numbers to thank them as much as we could — we dare you to watch this video without welling up:
And yet, as a group of people who love to take action, we wondered what else we could do. The Lake Christine Fire Incident Command team pointed us toward the Wildland Firefighter Foundation (wffoundation.org), a non-profit organization that provides assistance like immediate financial and ongoing emotional support, advocacy, and recognition to fallen firefighters' families and to firefighters injured in the line of duty. “They’re ordinary people doing an extraordinary job, a community of committed individuals who work and train to protect our private and public lands," the foundation says in its literature.
Two Leaves and a Bud is supporting the Wildland Firefighter Foundation with a donation not only because of the fire burning in our backyard (there were 13 burning in the state of Colorado alone in July 2018), but because we've seen the toll fires like these have taken on other communities, and know there are plenty of "ordinary people" on the front lines, putting their safety at risk to protect the rest of us and the wilderness. Please share your own wildfire experience with us, and consider donating to wwfoundation.org.
Cheers to our heroes!