Market Insights – July 9, 2012
“Let everyone sweep in front of his own door and the whole world will be clean”
—- Johan Wolfgang Von Goethe
Dear Clients and Friends,
For those of us who live in Colorado Springs, the last week of June and particularly the afternoon of June 26th, will be etched in our memories forever. As a community, we had long feared what would happen if a wildfire escaped Queen’s Canyon and came down the hillside into town. On Tuesday the 26th of June, our fears became a reality.
That day I had been up in Loveland, Colorado watching my 12 year old niece and her team (The Arizona Hotshots), as they competed in a multi-state softball tournament. By late afternoon, my i-phone had gone strangely quiet, no text messages or e-mails from my office and other Colorado Springs contacts. That seemed odd I thought…….at least until the last part of the drive home when I looked to the south around Castle Rock and saw a smoke and ash cloud that reminded me of one of those pictures from the early nuclear bomb tests in the New Mexico desert. Below is an excerpt from an e-mail I sent to family and friends on the morning of Wednesday the 27th in response to their worries and concern:
“During the afternoon games we watched the edge of a dry thunderstorm as it rained lightning bolts and started the big fire behind the Flat Irons range in Boulder. It grew from nothing to 700 acres in just 2 hours, they evacuated the south side of town and it is still burning today with 0% containment.
We are o.k. for now and as long as the wind stays out of the south, we are not threatened. That said we are only one lightning strike away from another dry thunderstorm, for the hills behind us to go up in flames as well. We are all very on edge. Yesterday however is a day that I will never forget as long as I live. The pictures cannot even begin to describe it. I was driving back from Loveland and got to Monument Hill around 7:15 p.m. when I learned that I-25 was closed 10 miles ahead (for an evacuation of the Air Force Academy) so I got off at County Line Road and worked my way over to U.S. 83 and came into C.S. the back way. When I got into town and looked to the west, all I could see was a wall of fire probably 50 feet high and a mile wide. It was coming down the hill fast and only about 3 miles away. Brush, scrub oak, pine trees and homes were all burning up together in a totally surreal scene. When I pulled over and got out of the car to take it all in, the smoke had turned the sky as dark as night and ash was falling like snow, so thick in fact, that I had to turn on the wipers to clear the windshield. The radio announcer started to sob when he had to report that the Flying W Ranch (a Colorado Springs tourist destination for over 60 years and originally homesteaded in the 1860′s) had burned to the ground. It took about 3 hours to burn almost 350 homes completely to the ground and the guess is that another 100 at least, have major damage. We have one employee in our office that may have lost her home. According to the fire map, she was deep in the fire zone but when she called her house, the answering machine came on, so she is somewhat hopeful. It will be at least a couple of more days before she can get in to see for sure. Dana Capozzella, my office manager lives in Woodland Park and she evacuated yesterday because they say that if the fire jumps U.S. 24, then a “chimney effect” will suck it all the way up Ute Pass to W.P. Nobody is taking anything for granted anymore and after yesterday, everyone has an appreciation for how fast things can go from bad to catastrophic. To make matters worse, it looking like the fire could have been intentionally set and the FBI has been called in to assist the National Forest Service as well as the local authorities.
We are at 5% containment with 1000 firefighters on the ground and Obama will be here on Friday.”
Today as I write this, most of those evacuated are back in their homes. We are at 95% on containment on the Waldo Canyon fire thanks to some cooperation from Mother Nature and most importantly, the super-human efforts of the firefighters from Colorado Springs and other firefighters who came from all over the western United States. As the smoke has dissipated, it has become clear just what those men and women did to save homes and defend containment lines under the most dangerous of conditions and circumstances. I think I can speak for nearly everyone in Colorado Springs when I say that we will be forever grateful to them for their work. Our employee who was worried about the loss of her home has found it intact with no damage. When she was able to get back into her neighborhood and her home, she could see where the firefighters had used her garden hoses to fight the fire as it came up the ravine right to her property’s edge. She is convinced that they saved her home.
I am proud of our community and the response from everyone has been really uplifting to me. The Care and Share Food Bank of Southern Colorado has taken in over 1 million pounds of food, the most ever associated with a food drive. Restaurants and other local merchants have kept the fire fighters supplied with food and other needs even as their businesses suffered lost revenue from the fire and evacuations. Last week, the El Pomar Foundation set up a victims assistance fund with $125,000 and within 3 days had another $54,000 come in ($29,000 in one day alone). An anonymous donor recently set up a $50,000 reward fund that goes to anyone who can supply information that leads to an arrest of the person or persons responsible for the looting of evacuated homes. The response and coordination from our city and county officials was professional and strategic. The communication to the public was clear and frequent.
It has been 13 days since the fire started. From where I sit here in my office on the 12th floor of our building, I look directly out to the fire. There is still smoke coming from hotspots on the ridge above Waldo Canyon and from down in Queen’s Canyon……..a haunting reminder of what happened a week ago Tuesday. Thank you again firefighters I know that you see it too.
Sources: None…..just memories and feelings
Ken Beach, President of Cascade Investment Group, member FINRA & SIPC. Cascade Investment Group is not a tax or legal advisor. You should always consult with your tax advisor or attorney before taking any actions that may have tax consequences.