Sunday, September 12, 2010

Four Mile Canyon Fire

After a stressful week, the Four Mile Canyon Fire is allegedly 83% contained, with 166 homes destroyed by the blaze (source: Daily Camera). Of course, that doesn't account for the houses with sprinkler systems that went off almost a week ago. In terms of property damage, this is the worst fire in recorded Colorado history.

As for the Gold Hill Inn and historic downtown Gold Hill, it survived the fire—barely.

The Bluebird Inn is in the bottom right-hand corner of the following picture. The Bluebird was the town's hotel from 1873-1920, when the Holiday House Association bought it for their summer retreats. The HHA was a group of single, professional women from Chicago who went by the name "Bluebirds." They were present in Gold Hill throughout the first half of the 20th Century, and sold the Bluebird and the Gold Hill Inn in the 1950s. Both buildings were sold to the Finn family in 1962.

This is a view from in front of the Gold Hill Inn, which abuts the Bluebird Lodge to the west. The fire is raging just behind it.

According to witnesses, this picture captures the exact moment when the town was saved. Firefighters at the scene reported that the wind calmed for about a minute, and during that brief respite a bomber dropped slurry on the south side of town. Residents are currently attempting to find information about the pilot of this plane, in order to thank him/her.Though the historic community of Gold Hill was spared the fire, there are still hundreds of individuals and families who have been profoundly and devastatingly affected. Even those whose homes didn't burn have been displaced, and the mountain communities now lack infrastructure. Not to mention that the Four Mile Fire Station in Salina burned down, and the Boulder County Volunteer Fire Stations have lost much of their tax base.

If you're interested in giving to the firefighters who lost their houses as well as to the Salina Volunteer Fire Department, you can easily donate $10 by texting "FIRE" to 27722. You can get more information about that here.

As for me, I'm planning a new oral history project on the Four Mile Canyon Fire. If you know anyone who is interested in being interviewed about their experiences, you may leave a comment here or contact me at

*All photos courtesy of Kurtis Leverentz and

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