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Many of us weren't in Colorado five years ago this week. Of those who were here, many haven't since ventured northwest of Woodland Park to the area ravaged that summer by the historic Hayman fire.

In this week's cover story (starting on page 16), Deb Acord shows us some of the land and people victimized by the largest wildfire in Colorado history. Her accounts, including personal memories, with then-and-now photographs, should drive home just how long it will take to recover from that six-week blaze.

If you truly want to grasp the full reality, visit the fire scene yourself. The southeastern edge is less than 30 miles from downtown Colorado Springs.

Even now, the damage is still mind-numbing.

Just drive to Woodland Park, then take Colorado Highway 67 to Deckers. If you want a better idea, continue north from Deckers and then take the gravel road to Cheesman Reservoir.

To check out the Hayman's west side, drive to Lake George on U.S. 24, then go north.

You can't see this land without being stunned, even shocked. It was 70-plus square miles of absolute disaster.

And it still is today.

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