Living at the foot of the Rockies is an unending source of beauty, but it's not without risk. Ten years ago, the Hayman fire transformed enormous swaths of mountainside into an inferno.
Cheryl Bennett of Divide is a receptionist
What are your most vivid memories of the Hayman fire? We were living close by and had to be ready to evacuate at any moment. We had horses, so I had to think about where to take them. One night the road near us was filled with the headlights of cars evacuating Spring Valley.
Are you worried about fire currently? It's always in the back of your mind if you live up there. It's just something you live with. We keep all our important papers in a single box and have another box ready for the pictures on our wall if we need to evacuate.
Any good memories involving fire? Roasting marshmallows over a bonfire at Girl Scout camp.
Darold Kern of Rockrimmon is a mortgage lender
What image springs to your mind in recalling the Hayman fire from 2002? Looking out a window at work on the fourth day and seeing a big glow, thinking how it could spread to the Air Force Academy, and if it spread further south than that, I was SOL.
Has anyone you know had a close call with fire? My younger brother. His house burned down when a fire broke out in the basement with everyone sleeping. They all escaped by climbing out a third-story window and down a ladder.
Any close calls yourself? When I was 23, I almost burned down a rental house when oil that I was heating in a pan to cook something ignited. By the time I lifted the pan off the stove, it had become a flamethrower. It caused significant ceiling damage.
Bill Hootes of Manitou Springs is a Special Forces technician
Has anyone you know had a dangerous encounter with fire? A friend of mine was in a house fire and barely made it out alive. He has missing fingers and a lot of scarring.
How about you? I was recently trying to get the pilot light started on my gas stove. I didn't realize gas was leaking out, and all of a sudden a fireball knocked me two or three feet backward.
What's your most vivid memory involving fire? A hotel burning down in my hometown — Marysville, Ohio — when I was really young. Also, the Twin Towers in flames on 9/11.
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