Fire Update #4
The Denver Post reported this morning that the majority of residents who fled the High Park Fire should be back in their homes over the next 48 hours. While we rejoice that many residents may be returning to their homes, THE SHERIFF’S OFFICE HAS INFORMED US THAT SKY RANCH WILL REMAIN UNDER AN EVACUATION NOTICE FOR THE IMMEDIATE FUTURE.
Firefighters battling The High Park Fire, still the largest fire currently burning in the state, gained some ground on the 87,250 acre blaze. As of Tuesday, containment (which fell from 60 percent to 45 percent over the weekend) is up to 75 percent. The Haines Index — a scale of 1 to 6 (6 being the worst) that firefighters use to rank fire growth potential in a region — is at level “6″ again Wednesday, the same levels reached during last weekend’s extreme fire growth. A Red Flag warning has been issued until 8 p.m. Wednesday, marking the 8th consecutive day of Red Flag warnings. Dry, frequent lightning and gusty winds up to 50 mph are considered likely.
The High Park Fire is the second-largest fire in Colorado history in terms of acreage and the most destructive ever in terms of homes destroyed. Officials believe a lightning strike on June 6 smoldered for days then ignited the fire on June 9. Since that time at least 257 homes have been destroyed and the cost of fighting the fire is $33.1 million.
High heat over the weekend produced a surge of new fires burning throughout Colorado and also provided fuel and devastating growth conditions for the fires already burning. A total of ten major fires are currently burning in Colorado. Officials with the High Park Fire are releasing firefighters, engines and aircraft to help with the other fires. While there were 1,800 firefighting personnel on the High Park Fire Tuesday night, they expected to send 10 engines and one hot shot crew to other fires on Wednesday. Nine aircraft have already been moved.
So what does all this mean for the property of Sky Ranch? The hottest part of the fire is on the southwest corner, the area closest to camp about 7 miles from Sky Ranch. In talking to staff at CSU’s Pingree Park campus (currently housing 200 firefighters and a mile from camp) they feel current fire lines should hold and protect Sky Ranch.
For the latest map go to http://www.larimer.org/highparkfire/highpark_0623_2239.pdf
So what does this all mean for the ministry of Sky Ranch? We are alive and well, being Sky Ranch wherever that might be! While it might have been easier (and cheaper) to just ‘cancel’ our summer, I feel it would have been poor stewardship of the gifts God has entrusted to us.
While our week-long family camp has been cancelled, we will definitely be having youth camps for the rest of the summer! Because it is uncertain if camp will be housed at Sky Ranch, we have contingency plans in place that again allow us use of the facilities at Highlands Presbyterian Camp for the weeks of July 8 and July15. Because of the many fires burning in Colorado, we are even developing contingency plans should Highlands be threatened and unavailable. We will keep you posted on where camp will be as soon as we know.
We are now in our third week of being evacuated and getting used to life on the road. We still have not been allowed to get back to Sky Ranch for personal items, equipment, or staff vehicles. I am amazed at the passion and servanthood shown by this year’s summer staff. They have literally left everything behind (at camp) to go and embody the Gospel wherever that might be. Pastor Kevin Meyer recently wrote:
“Sky Ranch Lutheran camp is doing what it does best… proclaiming the grace of God though model relationships. Lives are being touched in a very safe environment in the name of Christ. Frankly, the uniqueness of this year’s camping ministry is that it is happening in spite of the High Park Fire. It is happening because of the creativity, passion, dedication and toughness of the staff.”
As we continue to be Sky Ranch, we are thankful for all the prayers and support of those who are an extended part of this powerful ministry. We have accumulated over $30,000 in expenses during the two weeks since we were evacuated. Individuals, organizations and congregations have provided vital assistance in this time of need away from home. The Fort Collins R.E.I. graciously helped to outfit both of our backpacking trips for this week since all of our equipment is still at camp. Partner congregations, individuals and LFS Disaster Relief, have provided financial assistance for various costs associated with the evacuation and relocation our program.
As the fires spread throughout Colorado and the west, I ask you to continue to pray for all those affected by the fires or fighting to protect the structures left behind. You can help Sky Ranch by making a gift directly on our website www.skyranchcolorado.org or sending a check to our Office at 805 S Shields St, Fort Collins, CO 80521. For the most current information about Sky Ranch or the High Park fire, please check our website (listed above), or contact the Sky Ranch office: 970-493-5258.