Gas station without pumps

2016 July 13

Brother in the news

Filed under: Uncategorized — gasstationwithoutpumps @ 15:01
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My brother has been in the news a lot this week, as his house was very near the origin of the Cold Springs Fire in Nederland, CO.  On Saturday, he was quoted in the Daily Camera, as one of the early evacuees:

Lester Karplus and Karna Knapp said their house is right in the middle of the affected area.

“I just saw smoke come up the valley by the next house over, and then I saw flames come up and ash rained down,” Karplus said.

Karplus said they own four horses. As they saw the fire approaching a dirt road by their home, they succeeded in getting two horses ridden to safety. They aren’t sure about two other horses, but hope their neighbor, a firefighter, let them out as they were battling the blaze.

Knapp said the couple moved to the Nederland area eight years ago with a backpack and suitcase each.

“It’s just stuff,” Knapp said.

More precisely, he doesn’t own the horses—he houses them in his barn and pasture for the owner, who was herself the subject of a news story about the horse rescue:

As Pam Harrington prepared to flee approaching flames from the Cold Springs fire on Saturday afternoon, she suddenly looked up to see a wall of black smoke before her.

The blaze she had smelled minutes earlier as she was doing chores at a barn with her 5-year-old daughter had moved in more quickly than she could have expected. After ensuring her daughter was safe in a vehicle headed out of the area, she turned her attention to her horses — a Mustang and her daughter’s pony — only to realize her only option was to ride them to safety.

The story of the rescue of the two horses is worth reading.  The other two horses were rescued from the pasture the next day.

The fire is now somewhat under control, and they let residents inside the perimeter to see what happened to their dwellings.  My brother was the subject of  some of the photos:

Lester Karplus checks his cell phone after checking on his home and finding it unharmed by the Cold Springs Fire in Nederland, Colo., on Tuesday, July 12, 2016. The fire came within feet of his home. (Matthew Jonas/The Daily Camera via AP) [http://www.starherald.com/news/regional_statewide/colorado-wildfire-forces-evacuations-of-over-homes/article_ad0266d0-11a6-5c88-a397-2ae503cda789.html?mode=image]

Lester Karplus checks his cell phone after checking on his home and finding it unharmed by the Cold Springs Fire in Nederland, Colo., on Tuesday, July 12, 2016. The fire came within feet of his home. (Matthew Jonas/The Daily Camera via AP) [http://www.starherald.com/news/regional_statewide/colorado-wildfire-forces-evacuations-of-over-homes/article_ad0266d0-11a6-5c88-a397-2ae503cda789.html?mode=image]

The remains of a satellite dish melted in a wildfire are seen near the home of Lester Karplus and Karna Knapp in Nederland, Colo., on Tuesday, July 12, 2016. (Matthew Jonas/Daily Camera via AP)[http://www.starherald.com/news/regional_statewide/colorado-wildfire-forces-evacuations-of-over-homes/article_ad0266d0-11a6-5c88-a397-2ae503cda789.html?mode=image]

The remains of a satellite dish melted in a wildfire are seen near the home of Lester Karplus and Karna Knapp in Nederland, Colo., on Tuesday, July 12, 2016. (Matthew Jonas/Daily Camera via AP)[http://www.starherald.com/news/regional_statewide/colorado-wildfire-forces-evacuations-of-over-homes/article_ad0266d0-11a6-5c88-a397-2ae503cda789.html?mode=image]

There a couple of more photos (of the unburned barn and greenhouse) at http://www.argus-press.com/news/state_news/article_2a6e45f6-3ed2-5327-bc03-49e1c38ade7c.html, again by Matthew Jonas.

Considering how big the fire was (about 528 acres in the latest estimate) and the total destruction of two of his neighbor’s homes, I think my brother was very lucky indeed to have had so little damage (the satellite dish wasn’t his—the land for it was leased to the government).

Update 2016 July 14:  He is quoted again by the Daily Camera:

Lester Karplus said he hopes to return to his home on Sherwood Road with a generator in the next few days.

“We’ll probably try and get back this weekend and start the cleaning process,” Karplus said. “We’re not sure what that’s going to look like. We’ll know more when the cleaners come to look at it. This could be anything from inexpensive to very expensive.”

Karplus said he got to go back to his house briefly to check on it during the fire, and said while houses on his street burned down, his was luckily untouched. He said there was no slurry on his property, either, but he was going to have to deal with smoke damage to his log cabin.

 

But even with a lot of cleanup ahead, Karplus said it was good to hear that he and the other evacuees would be heading home soon.

“It’s a bit of a relief, because it’s stressful to deal with that process and be outside your home,” Karplus said. “It’s nice to be able to go back to your home.”

4 Comments »

  1. Wow, that was close! Looks like part luck (fireman next door) and part having a defensible area on a fairly level site. There doesn’t seem to be much in the way of brush or trees close to his house. With all the fires out west, it is an odd coincidence that the one that threatened your brother made our news. I think that was because of the sloppy camping practices of the tourists from Alabama. We also have a fire season with its share of preventable fires, so the news people probably saw that story as a teachable moment.

    Comment by CCPhysicist — 2016 July 15 @ 09:41 | Reply

    • I saw one aerial photo of the burned area that showed my brother’s house completely surrounded by char, but none of his buildings burned. His house didn’t even get hit with fire retardant, as the fire had burned past it before they got the aerial resources to fight the fire. I don’t know that having a firefighter neighbor helped much—the firefighter’s house was completely destroyed. I think it was mainly blind luck (and some diligence in maintaining a clear perimeter).

      Comment by gasstationwithoutpumps — 2016 July 15 @ 10:16 | Reply

      • Sad that the firefighter lost his house. The irony! Aside from the surroundings, the only other factor could have been the type of roof. A HS friend lives in a log house in the woods in another part of Colorado, and he said the roof was a big deal. Ugly and fire resistant beats the prettier alternatives. But nothing beats luck, or a wind shift.

        Comment by CCPhysicist — 2016 July 16 @ 16:40 | Reply

        • The roof matters, as does clearing pine needles out of the gutters and clearing debris from around the house. My brother was pretty good about that sort of fire prevention, and it may have helped here, but luck was the big factor—his cluster of buildings is surrounded by charred trees now, so tiny differences in the wind or his perimeter could have made a huge difference.

          Comment by gasstationwithoutpumps — 2016 July 16 @ 17:55 | Reply


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