The breezy weather today has made the air quality in the city of Fort Collins a great deal better. However, it's not good news for firefighting on the High Park Fire, and more of our friends evacuated late last night. It's good when the phone rings after 10 p.m. with the message that dear friends are SAFE. (Another set of friends has just gotten in touch to say they're staying put for now. I have a lot of empathy, because they have already hauled all over the countryside with trailers full of animals for several weeks due to fire alerts, but I prefer personally to hear "out of the danger zone." I know that's selfish of me. The risk for them is not direct: it's that their one road out is too close for my comfort to areas that have been evacuated.)
On Monday evening, even with a little point-and-shoot camera and no patience at all to figure out how to shoot in the dark, I got this photo from our neighborhood. That orange stuff is fire on this side of the ridge (although on the other side of Horsetooth Reservoir, which runs along the western edge of Fort Collins). That piece of fire has since been controlled and we're not seeing it now. (As of the latest reports that I have, within the past hour, the fire is at 52,068 acres, or just over 81 square miles, and 15% contained.)
Meanwhile, we do what we can. Which isn't a whole lot, other than remain on alert to take evacuees, both two-footed and four-footed (our house is actually better equipped for extra four-foots.) And this, a message for the firefighters in the sky:
We got NIOSH N-95 masks earlier this week, when it hurt to breathe while walking. They handle particulates reasonably well, and that's the major risk with smoke coverage. (They are not effective against gases, but if there are gases people need to be out of the area altogether.) I do wish that there were masks the dogs could wear and would tolerate. Our walks have been very basic, with no extras.
Before we got the masks, the Bike Bandit was often seen in our area.
Some of us need a daily quota of exercise in order not to drive other household members nuts. That includes the Border collie among those who need more than simply throwing a rope chew around the house can provide.
We have seen only a handful of people wearing masks: a couple of other bikers, for example. We were REALLY glad to see sign shaker Tim Farnsworth with a mask on! He gets a lot of exercise in the course of his work, brightens our days here in the city, and the particulates associated with wildfire can be very small and can go deep into the lungs, even when the immediate irritation is relatively minor. We gave this guy a big thumbs-up when we passed him the other day, dancing and breathing relatively safely. True, the lungs will get rid of the stuff as soon as they can. But the discomfort is noticeable, and the effect of the masks in making for more comfortable breathing is, too.
The next post will be full of sheep. I'm off to start writing it now.