At this time five years ago, the Hayman fire was setting enormous reaches of the nearby mountains aflame. Even here in town, the air was tinted brown. You could taste smoke, and it burned your throat to breathe.
What are your memories of the Hayman fire? It was the biggest thing in the news, and devastating to the people up there. I can relate to the woman who started it being bummed about breaking up with her boyfriend, but I can't fathom starting a fire over it.
What's the worst natural disaster you've experienced? Back in 1989, I was a high school student in northern Montana when it got to 50 or 60 below [zero].
What would you save if your house were burning down? My passport, because it's so expensive and such a pain in the butt to get; my Social Security card, because it's hard to get one of those nowadays, too; my photo albums because of their memories.
Finances aside, what would be hardest about starting over? Having to impose on a friend or family member, or staying in a hotel.
Old Colorado City
What do you recall about the Hayman fire? It was started by some lady burning letters. Like everyone else, I thought it was a shame that a lot of forest and homes were destroyed.
What's the worst natural disaster (or close call) you've experienced? A tornado passed right next to the place I lived in Spearfish, S.D. It was night, and I could see the flashes of lightning all around it, and no door in the place would open because of the pressure vacuum it created.
What would you protect in a fire? Easily carried expensive items jewelry and such.
What would be the hardest part of starting over? Trying to rebuild the house.
Tom Van DeHey
What do you recall about the Hayman fire? It was so uncontrollable, and several firefighters died in it. And that it was started by a lady burning love letters.
What's your closest-call natural disaster? When we lived in Cheyenne, Wyo., two storm fronts locked in to cause a flood. We were downstairs seeking shelter when we heard glass shattering from bursting window wells. We bailed frantically, trying to hold the water level down.
If a forest fire was headed for your house, what would you save? I'd go for our personal records insurance policies, financial data and such.
What would be toughest about starting over? The emotional trauma from lost personal things with memories attached. And my wife is an avid art collector those things would be irreplaceable.