By now most of our readers have heard about the wildfires raging in Colorado Springs, CO, home of the American Numismatic Association. This week the ANA's annual Summer Seminar is taking place. Attendees and the ANA building are OK, but the event is wreaking havoc on the area and threatening the homes of ANA staffers and their friends and families. Here are some first-hand reports. First, a link to a video from ABC News. The fire is huge and wild - it was reported that fully half of the firefighters in the United States have been deployed to the state, and President Obama is scheduled to tour the area tomorrow.
A raging Colorado wildfire that forced tens of thousands to flee destroyed an estimated 346 homes this week, making it the most destructive fire in the state's history, officials said Thursday.
From above, the destruction becomes painfully clear: Rows and rows of houses were reduced to smoldering ashes even as some homes just feet away survived largely intact.
On one street, all but three houses had burned to their foundations, said Ryan Schneider, whose home is still standing in a neighborhood where 51 others were destroyed.
The aerial photos showing the scope of one of the worst fires to hit the American West in decades did little to help ease the concerns of many residents who still did not know the fate of homes.
Amid the devastation in the foothills of Colorado Springs, there were hopeful signs. Flames advancing on the U.S. Air Force Academy were stopped and cooler conditions could help slow the fire.
As of mid-day Thursday, the fire was 10 percent contained. The cost of fighting the blaze had already reached $3.2 million.
To read the complete article and view the news video, see:
Mayor: Colorado Springs Fire Destroys 346 Homes
On Wednesday David Lange posted on the NGC website about the fires in Colorado Springs during the ANA Seminar. "It's getting pretty unpleasant", he said. Here is the text of his post.
I'm told that the Waldo Canyon fire in Colorado Springs made the national news last night. It's been the only news coverage here for days, so I thought that the coin community might be interested in a report of how things are going at the ANA Summer Seminar Session I.
I've been here since Saturday, along with NGC graders John Schuch and David Vagi. The fire was just starting when we arrived, but it has grown enormously and has already burned more than 130 homes. The fire is west and slightly north of Colorado College, where the seminar is held adjacent to the ANA headquarters. It doesn't seem that either facility is endangered, but it has made conditions here a bit unpleasant. Several ANA staff members and other numismatists in this area have been forced to evacuate their homes at some time or another this week. The U. S. Air Force Academy north of town has also been vacated. The popular train ride to the top of Pike's Peak was cancelled, since it leaves from one of the affected areas.
The campus housing at Colorado College began filling up with refugees last night, and it was a touching sight to see a young mother and her two children dragging their bags around the patio looking for the entrance to the quad units in which the instructors stay. Evidently, more evacuated persons will be arriving today.
The air is noticeably smoky. This, combined with the usual challenges presented by the altitude and aridity of Colorado Springs, has caused some minor breathing problems, and people and being advised to stay inside. I noticed that I was getting easily winded yesterday. While sitting in the popular Lunar Lounge, which is simply the patio area that faces the mountains, ash began to settle on my clothes, and a few scorched leaves fell nearby.
Classes are proceeding normally, but there is definitely a sense of anxiety. The usual afterhours ambience is lacking, and the aforementioned Lunar Lounge is strangely quiet after dark. Few people are gathering there to enjoy the beautiful Colorado sunsets, which this week are obscured by smoke and ash. Tall flames flare up on the ridgeline just west of town, and some seminar attendees have been successful in getting still photos and video of this dramatic sight.
I'm making the best of things, as are my fellow NGCers, but it's uncomfortable at times. We're determined to see it through, but I imagine that everyone will be a bit relieved when it's time to go home.
Please include your fellow numismatists who live and work in the Colorado Springs area in your thoughts. A lot of nice folks are in danger of losing their homes.
Later that day ANA Librarian RyAnne Scott wrote:
On Wednesday Bill Rosenblum wrote:
Fires are all over the place. In the foothills west of Ft. Collins I have a client who lives in that fire area. Tried to contact him the other day and haven't heard back from him.
A new fire started this afternoon in Boulder.
Fire just west of Colorado Springs is probably a big concern for a number of numismatists. Fire changed direction today. It might play havoc with the coin show scheduled this weekend in the Springs.
On Wednesday ANA communications coordinator Jake Sherlock published an article in the Columbia Missourian with photos of the smoke taken from the roof of the ANA.
The above photo was taken about 4:30 p.m. MDT Tuesday from the roof of my employer, the Money Museum in downtown Colorado Springs. The fire, as you probably know, jumped a ridge and started coming down the mountains and into the northwest section of Colorado Springs. The photo shows the smoke cloud that was visible from downtown.
I live more in the center of town, so my home isn't in any danger. But the smoke here in town is pretty thick and is causing issues for anyone with respiratory issues. We have about 32,500 total displaced between Colorado Springs and unincorporated El Paso County.
To read the complete article, see:
FROM READERS: Wildfire smoking out Colorado Springs
David Lange writes:
The air cleared a bit yesterday, which is a relief for those of us at the college. The fires are still burning, but the loss of so many houses Tuesday night seems to have changed official attitudes about the situation. Before that time, the plan was to let the fire burn while fighting more urgent ones elsewhere in Colorado. Now the fires are being tracked very closely.
The attached YouTube link is from Mary Jo Meade, who does the layout of my books. She is one of four persons I know in town who were evacuated. Among the others were Ken Hallenbeck and David Sklow/Susan McMillan, though David and Susan are back home now.
To view the video, see:
Numismatic literature dealer David Sklow writes:
Things are little tense here, but I feel my home and business is out of danger, at least for now. The skies are clearing and air quality is improving over Old Colorado City [which is where I live just northwest of the ANA & Colorado College Campus], but we have a long battle ahead to contain this fire. Many people have lost their homes in subdivisions further west & north, and our beautiful foothills and mountain sides are scorched, but life goes on.
The Waldo Canyon wildfire is still only 5% contained as of June 28, with over 1000 fire fighters on the front lines. C-130 tankers, and helicopters continue the battle from the air, but the fire has grown to over 18,000 acres and homes are still very much in danger. There have been over 30,000 people evacuated from their homes, and in addition, the United States Air Force Academy has also been evacuated, [the academy is situated on the northwestern boundary of Colorado Springs]. The response from all over the country to this disaster in our beautiful city is amazing! The ANA's Annual Summer Seminar continues to operate both its sessions and is well attended.
I would like to thank all those that have called and emailed to check on Susan's and my status. Also, Cairo and Paris, our two cats that stand guard over the many shelves of books, are doing just fine!
Our thoughts and prayers go out to all affected, and we hope and trust that the ANA headquarters, staff, members and friends all come through this event safely. Thanks to everyone for keeping us informed.
Wayne Homren, Editor
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