Fires make Colorado vacation an adventure for Oklahoma family

This vacationing Oklahoma family was among those evacuated when a raging wildfire threatened a tourist spot.
by Don Mecoy Published: July 4, 2012

A 2 a.m. rapping on your hotel room door is generally not good news.

Last week, my family was awakened by the pounding of a Manitou Springs, Colo., firefighter who ordered us to pack up and evacuate the hotel because the Waldo Canyon fire was threatening that lovely tourism town. “Head east,” was his blunt direction.

That fire, which was just gaining a foothold in the mountains above Colorado Springs when we rolled into town, has destroyed more than 300 homes and consumed thousands of acres. At least two people have died in the wildfire.

Prevailing winds blew the fire away from our location during the day, but switched direction that night and put us in the line of fire.

By the time we had blinked the sleep from our eyes, we were headed toward Denver with no particular destination. We met other fire refugees while ordering breakfast at 4 a.m. in Boulder, Colo.

We had planned to spend the remainder of our vacation in Estes Park, Colo., parts of which also were ablaze when we had gone to bed.

Fortunately, quick action by firefighters quelled the Estes Park wildfire, clearing the way for us to bed down in the YMCA of the Rockies the next evening. But the Estes Park fire destroyed two dozen structures on the doorstep of Rocky Mountain National Park before it was doused.

We reassured local friends who planned to bring their parents to Estes Park that the fire was out and the air quality was good. During our weeklong visit, there were a couple of hazy days likely caused by the parts of the state that remained ablaze.

by Don Mecoy
Business Editor
Business Editor Don Mecoy has covered business news for more than a decade after earlier working on The Oklahoman's city, state and metro news desks, including a stint as city editor. He has won state and regional journalism awards for business,...
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