Areas surrounding Boulder, Colorado, are currently enflamed due to the Marshall Fire. One mother from the area stands as a bit of a cautionary tale for common sense, based on a report from The Colorado Sun.
On Thursday, Christina Eisert witnessed a number of — what one might define as — red flags.
Boulder County Office of Emergency Management has just announced an Evacuation Order for ALL of Superior, Colorado residents. Evacuation point is the South Boulder Recreation Center. The Superior Community Center is not an official evacuation location.
— Town of Superior, Colorado (@townofsuperior) December 30, 2021
Heat hung thick in the air, as did the smell of burning wood. Eisert thought someone was using a “wood-burning stove,” but then saw thick billows of smoke above her neighborhood. Sounds of fire trucks could be heard, neighbours were panicking, but no official evacuation order had been given.
Eisert decided to go on with her day, as planned.
Within the hour, the Marshall Fire Raged
My son flew back to Seattle this evening. Here is a video he took of the Superior / Louisville fires from the plane at 5 pm. Our hearts go out to our neighbours in the fire’s path and the first responders working to save their homes and businesses. #MarshallFire pic.twitter.com/O6LXrOKCXT
— Gretchen Rosenberg (@GRDenver) December 31, 2021
Eisert had a hair appointment planned for her kids. She packed them in the car, left her dogs in the house, and headed off, despite these signs of fire.
“It didn’t seem like the whole universe was on fire yet,” she recalled to the Colorado Sun.
As she drove, likely witnessing the ensuing panic and evacuations, Eisert realised that she may have made a grave error in judgment. Her house, and her dogs inside, were in the path of this fire.
Wind gusts escalated to 110mph, sweeping the fire along at break-neck speed, through Boulder, Superior, and Louisville. Thousands were evacuated, lost power, or worse.
“This is going to burn our house, I could just tell,” Eisert recalls. “The heat, the wind was so fast. It was like a fire hurricane or a fire tornado.”
Eisert Returns Home With Her Kids
Earlier today, South Adams County Fire deployed Engine 27 and crew to assist with the fires in Boulder county. Our thoughts and prayers go out to all the residents and businesses impacted by the fire. #BoulderFire #MarshallFire pic.twitter.com/QPV3bu8edM
— South Adams Fire (@SACFD200) December 31, 2021
Eisert quickly drove back home, with her teenagers still in the car, to get her dogs. Yet another questionable decision. In the short amount of time since they’d been gone, the fire had already begun to devastate the neighborhood.
Ash the “size of dinner plates” fell from the sky, still lit aflame. “You couldn’t see. You couldn’t breathe,” says Eisert, but she managed to get her dogs from the house. This was just before she heard the high-pitched squeal of her car windows shattering from the heat.
Eisert ran to the car and took off. Unfortunately, she wouldn’t get very far, with hundreds of cars fleeing an evacuated Costco on the roads by her home.
“I felt like the fire was bearing down on us so I pulled the car off the road into the park,” Eisert said. But the smoke was so thick she couldn’t see. She laid on the horn as she drove through the park, basically blind.
“It was like fight or flight,” Eisert said. “I just felt every molecule in my body wanting to get my children out of this fire.”
Eisert Did Find Safety From the Marshall Fire
This video was taken by BPD Patrol Officers in Superior…E of US-36…this afternoon. Our thoughts are with our neighbours tonight who lost their homes and businesses. We continue to assist our law enforcement and fire partners as necessary. #MarshallFire #MiddleForkFire pic.twitter.com/ceydZAAfEM
— Broomfield Police (@BroomfieldPD) December 31, 2021
Eventually, Eisert reached her mother’s house, in Broomfield, which has since been evacuated. She was spitting up ash and was covered in it. Her teenagers, herself, and her pups were all safe, but their house is believed to be one of 600 so far destroyed by the fire.
Eisert has nothing but her handbag and her phone but says she doesn’t care. “I just felt so close to being in real physical danger with the children. It is very eye-opening and clarifying.”
This isn’t an area that sees this kind of natural disaster. But, Eisert’s story is certainly one to learn from. Situational awareness can make all the difference.
Have you been keeping up on the news from the Marshall Fire? Have you ever been evacuated due to a similar natural disaster? Let us know in the comments below.