beulah blazing
From our office, Stan and I watched mountain flames dance intermittently for three days. On Sunday we drove to Beulah, about 18 miles southwest of Pueblo West, to visit friends. This lightning-ignited blaze had been burning in the neighboring community of Wetmore since Thursday.

The Mason Gulch fire began as a fairly small event. Due to a lack of firefighters and running out of fire retardant coupled with high temperatures and gusty winds, it quickly stormed out of control. Little did we know that the leisurely visit would turn into an evacuation.

When we arrived at our friends home, we chatted for a bit, then urged them to begin packing — just in case. Conditions worsened as the afternoon wore on. Then the fire turned southeast. It was time to leave.

Judy and I worked on inside tasks assembling necessary papers, keepsakes, items of value and making their pets travel-ready. Stan and Bob moved vehicles, equipment and anything that could explode. All the while, ash fell on our heads and the Sun took on an eerie glow filtered by heavy smoke. As we were finishing, the mandatory evacuation order came.

The first five photos are various stages of the fire, but don't convey its size. The bottom left photo shows the early Sunday blockade where police prohibited anyone from venturing into Beulah. By the time we left that afternoon, the blockade had moved another 20 miles further out disallowing any travel into the area, not even residents.

From Sunday to Monday night, the blaze has doubled in size to 11,000 acres. This morning, Tuesday, fire has gobbled up another 1,000 acres. Governor Bill Owens declared a state of emergency yesterday, so hopefully that will free up Federal funds to get this disaster under control. As of this morning, Tuesday, July 12th, 450 firefighters are on the scene along with 5 choppers, 9 air tankers and 24 engines. The blaze is 30% contained and the National Guard is on stand-by.

Stan and I want to thank everyone for the prayers and well-wishes and kind offers of shelter. We are fine and in no danger. However, we would ask that you pray for the residents and wildlife of Wetmore and Beulah. At present, 750 homes and structures are at risk. — Holly Deyo