The fire in Indian Gulch consumed almost 1700 acres before it was contained. (image: Austin Shelton)

Come on baby light my fire. Hell, light my whole mountain on fire.

According to Westword.com, the Golden-area wildfire in Indian Gulch burned around 1,700 acres. A few friends and I watched the fire blaze just 15 miles from my house in Golden. Being of a different breed in our semi-western mountain town, we jump at the chance to watch nature claw through our screen doors and dismantle our highly domesticated lives. But with winter fading seemingly quicker than expected, and spring air sifting its way into eager nostrils, the last thing on our minds was destruction.

Trees, shrubs, grass, all burned to ash, and charcoal hillsides were left behind as eyesores on our majestic gateway to the Rockies. Homes evacuated and neighbors panicked. This isn’t the record snowfall March our citizens are so comfortably used to seeing. Where blankets of snow should lay windblown, birthing icy streams and trickling waterfalls, we instead see barren patches of blackened rock. No wonder Punxsutawney never saw his shadow, he should probably start running for his life.

With fires near Franktown, southern Colorado, the foothills, and even right here in Golden, you may not feel a vibe of rebirth, but of morbid decay. Stop right there. You see, fellow mountain men (and women), I am here to remind you that although those skis might see the closet a little sooner than expected, and that campfire may have to wait a couple months, you need not get all “fired up” so quickly. We are in Nature’s hands. If anything, Nature should feel a little inconvenienced that we placed our homes so awkwardly like obstacles in her path. Fires are simply extreme signs that new growth is on the horizon (though it might look a little barren at the moment). Nature has her violent methods of replenishing Earth’s natural beauty, and flames only speed up the process. A sprout can take off more rapidly in ash-covered soil, as it allows for the uncovering of minerals and a more active, warmer layer of earth (Forest Encyclopedia).

Damage ensues and flames roar, but I’ll bet my bottom dollar that soon enough those blackened hills will blossom into lush landscapes patterned with saplings. Just remember that even though fire may be dangerous to those that live in its path, it is an essential element to maintaining a rich and ever-changing ecosystem here in Colorado.

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