Fourmile Canyon Fire

People, pets evacuate during Boulder’s worst-ever blaze
By Lisa Wogan, September 2010, Updated February 2015

I’m in Boulder, Colo., visiting my sister for a few days before attending the BlogPaws West Convention in Denver. Monday morning, we sat and watched, as a brown cloud covered the blue sky and blotted out the sun. We thought, storm cloud. Then, dust cloud. Then, walking into the backyard, which had an eerie pink hue, we smelled the smoke—a brushfire in the foothills, not far, as the sparks fly, from my sister’s home.


All day high winds fed what is being called the Fourmile Canyon Fire. Smoke waxed and waned over our heads and filled our nostrils. Yesterday and this morning, the blaze continued—reportedly, zero percent contained. More than 7,000 acres and nearly 100 structures are confirmed destroyed. Thousands of people have been evacuated. A man in the latte line with me this morning lost his home. I couldn’t believe how calm he was about it.
And, of course, there are the animals: Horses, dogs, cats and more—mostly successfully evacuated. But, over lunch, a friend tells us about one man, trying to return to his Gold Hill home to save his dog, being turned away by emergency personnel. It is for the man’s safety, but it’s too painful to contemplate.
The Boulder Humane Society has been providing temporary shelter for dogs, cats and small mammals displaced from their homes but it is now full. The shelter has requested cat litter, towels, blankets and cash donations. Donate online or give $10  by texting PROTECT to 50555. Nearby, the Longmont Humane Society has been providing backup—taking in 30 animals so far—but will soon reach capacity. Some livestock have been evacuated to the Boulder County Fairgrounds in Longmont.
The central shelter at the Boulder YMCA is allowing evacuees to bring their dogs, although they are kept in a separate area. In other cases, private individuals are offering to house and care for pets needing temporary refuge while their people stay with friends or in hotels.
The situation serves as a terrible and vivid reminder to be prepared. Make a disaster plan that includes your pets. I live in Seattle, an earthquake zone, and I realize that I haven’t taken all the steps I need to protect my dogs, Lulu and Renzo, should I be unable to get to my house in a disaster. When I return home, I plan on arranging a backup plan with my neighbors—who also have a dog and probably need a backup.
Here's a pretty stunning video from among the many shot in and around Boulder over the last few days:


Lisa Wogan lives in Seattle and is the author of, most recently, Dog Park Wisdom.