• Evacuations since 2005: Three (Mason Gulch, Sand Gulch, Wetmore).
And the amount of time available dropped for each one, from six hours to thirty minutes to "Go now!"
• Pre-evacuation notices that never required leaving home: Two, one in 2011 (the Biplane Fire, a/k/a the Mason Fire) and one in 2012 (the Ditch Creek Fire). We should have received a reverse-911 evacuation notice last week, but the telephone lines had already burned by then.
• Number of smokejumper drops that you could have seen from the house in the last two years: Two, one of them just across the road.
• Named fires within one mile in the last two years that made the national incident list: Three.
• Other minor wildland fires in this area in the last two years: Five? (I would need to check the incident reports at the fire house to be sure.)
• Number of Forest Service plans presented for prescribed fires, thinning, etc. in this area since 1987, the first year that I started following the issue: Several. Six?
• Number of prescribed burns actually carried out: One, in April 2000. Some mechanical thinning was also done in the area burned over during the Mason Gulch Fire. The Forest Service claims that it helped slow the fire. But no burning or thinning has been done in the actual "interface" area, close to homes.
• Number of naturally occurring fires that were categorized as "prescribed use" and allowed to burn, only to explode after the Forest Service assured residents that everything was under control: One (Sand Gulch), in 2011.
Sticking It Out
But as much as I might call ours the "Burned-Over District" (a little scholarly joke there), I think that title really goes to the area west of Boulder, Colorado: Gold Hill, Black Tiger Gulch, Sugar Loaf, Four Mile Canyon, Sunshine Canyon, Boulder Canyon, Lefthand Canyon — All place names, all fire names.
This documentary, Above the Ashes, focuses on local residents who fought the Fourmile Fire (September 2010) on Boulder's western edge at their own homes and their neighbors', because there were simply not enough trained firefighters to cover the area. It's a good depiction of how people react — and act. (Hat tip: Wildfire Today.)
Best line: "You send four gay men into a burning house, they grab the art."