Mar 272011
Authors: Erin Udell

As fire spread through thousands of acres of dry brush near Burning Tree Trail, Tara Saldivar could only watch as her Parker neighbors evacuated their homes Thursday afternoon.

The junior food science and nutrition major, who lives in Fort Collins, watched for developments on the news while also getting updates from her mother.

“It was scary and weird because they (news stations) were mentioning all these landmarks that I knew,” Saldivar said. “The news was shooting from Ponderosa High School and that’s like right by my house. It was really freaky.”

While it was eventually contained and no structures were destroyed, the Burning Tree Fire marked an early beginning to Colorado’s fire season, which usually spans from May to September.

According to a media briefing released by the Rocky Mountain Area Coordination Center on March 24, the fire potential in the next 30 to 45 days remains above average, but the summer fire season will be dependant on the amount of precipitation this spring.

With the recent release of the current drought conditions for the Rocky Mountain area by the Western Regional Climate Center, some areas of Colorado range from abnormally to severely dry. This, combined with high winds, played a part in the spread of the Burning Tree Fire through over 1,600 acres of land.

“We were dealing with significant winds at that point. So when you have those winds that erratic coming in different directions, you’re not sure where the fire is travelling and how fast,” said South Metro Fire spokesman Anthony Valdez to Fox 31 news reporter Tammy Vigil.
After the fire was fully contained late Thursday, many Douglas County residents, like Saldivar’s family, were allowed back to their homes.

With no injuries or extreme damage to homes, this fire only serves as a close call Parker and Franktown residents.

“That’s the house I grew up in,” Saldivar said. “I can’t imagine it not being there or having all my stuff burned. I mean, all of our stuff is in there — pictures, everything.”

Senior Reporter Erin Udell can be reached at

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