Amy Satterfield pulled away from her home on Thursday not
knowing if it would still be there when she returned.
“I’m pulling away from my driveway thinking, ‘Do I have
everything that I want?’ Well, there’s no way in hell I have
everything I want because I’d be folding up the house and taking
it,” Satterfield said.
The hypothetical question that most have pondered became a
reality for the CSU technical journalism senior lecturer. At 5:30
a.m., Satterfield was told she needed to be ready to flee at a
moment’s notice because the Picnic Rock fire was creeping toward
The Picnic Rock fire was accidentally started after a resident
of Poudre Canyon attempted to burn trash in his back yard. The fire
has spread from 350 acres to 9,158 acres since Tuesday.
” As I’m pulling out I’m thinking, ‘OK, you know what? Close the
garage door. It’s just stuff. That’s all that’s in there. It’s just
stuff,'” Satterfield said.
Though she sat anxiously in her office in the C-wing of Clark
Friday afternoon, she was calm and poised when recalling the events
of the past 48 hours. She had been advising students since 8
“(I’m having a) terribly hard time concentrating. It’s actually
been a welcome distraction,” Satterfield said of her advising
She was optimistic about the safety of her home.
” I think anytime there’s an evacuation the odds are good that
your home would be standing when it’s done,” she said.
Satterfield said it is not the structure of her house but the
natural landscape around it that makes the Bonner Peak subdivision
“We’ve always said, ‘It’s not our house up there that makes it
worth it to live there. It’s the acreage of beautiful land around
us,'” she said. “That’s what makes it worth it. Is that going to be
Experience with Evacuation
Mike Rosso dawned a smile and a white Red Cross vest as he
surveyed the gymnasium of Cache La Poudre Elementary School on
Thursday. The evacuation center may be the only place some evacuees
have to go, but Rosso, a Red Cross information officer, said
shelter is not the only amenity he school has to offer.
“Tonight we should see people who need to talk to a mental
health person, so we offer those services as well,” he said.
Rosso also worked with evacuees from last summer’s Hayman fire.
He said people have different ways of dealing with the stress of an
“It runs the gamut from a person who says, ‘Oh, that’s life’ and
just takes it as it comes to people who don’t want to give up a
home they’ve lived in for 30 or 40 years,” he said.
At 4 p.m. Thursday, the day of the evacuations, the volunteers
outnumbered evacuees at the center. Rosso said he hadn’t seen more
than 15 residents, which is typical.
“We’ll be real light on evacuees during the daylight hours, but
as soon as the sun goes down, I guess reality hits,” he said.
Many residents lingered at Ted’s Place – on the corner of
Highway 14 and Highway 287 — the original meeting spot for
evacuees, and were busy making arrangements for pets and
“It is interesting to see what people pack up,” Rosso said.
After securing the safety of their pets, people tend to bring their
heirlooms and pictures, he said.
“You see their lives,” he said.
Rosso said it is interesting to see what people leave behind as
” All of a sudden your china and your DVD players and all of
your material things – they’re not necessary,” Rosso said. “It’s
the pictures. It’s the mementos of your life. That’s
The power of nature
After having learned that the fire had destroyed a home on
Thursday, Patrice Berglund, a resident of the Bonner Peak
subdivision, felt compassion for those who had experienced the
“It hurts me for them and it almost makes me feel guilty for
being one of the fortunate ones,” she said. “Although, at the same
time I may not be one of the fortunate ones. If the wind turns
tonight, I could be one of the ones that other people are feeling
Burglund sat at a cafeteria table in the Cache La Poudre
Elementary School surrounded by neighbors after Larimer County
officials led the first community information meeting in the new
evacuation center on Thursday.
Just days before, she watched the fire creep closer to her
“It humbles you – the power of nature and yet you’re in awe and
yet it is so terrifying,” she said. “It would be nice if you could
view it from a distance, because it is beautiful if you’re not
being threatened by it.”
Having lived in the Bonner Peak area for 17 years, Berglund
could not imagine losing her home and would not know how to console
someone who had lost his/her home.
“I would say, ‘What could I do to help?’ but those are just
words. And whatever you do there is nothing you can do that’s
enough. There’s nothing.”
It was difficult for Burgund to discuss the fire’s origin.
“I have so much more respect and value for the environment and
my neighbors that I would never even consider doing anything like
that,” Burgland said.
“When you see the level of destruction now, how could you live
with yourself? So I do have some sympathy for him,” she said. “But
at the same time, it’s like what was he thinking?”
Like many evacuated residents, Burgland has had to consider
things many never will. Everything from what she packed up to take
with her to what she left behind weighs in on the reality that she
may never go back to the house she calls home.
“We are presented with these challenges. What sets us apart is
how we handle them. You can’t anticipate how you are going to deal